The Los Angeles Lakers have defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves with Pau Gasol starting and Dwight Howard starting, but Wednesday night will be the first time the Lakers attempt to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves with both Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard starting.
It’s been a tough six days for the Los Angeles Lakers. After blowing the game against the Wizards on Friday, the Lakers played terrible basketball for three quarters and lost to the Warriors on Monday. Since this is the 2012-13 Lakers, no road trip would be complete without featuring a freak injury that sent a player home.
On Wednesday night, however, the Lakers need to ignore all the turmoil and break their three-game losing streak in Minnesota against the Timberwolves. To be honest, this is the exact team the Lakers needed at a time like this. The Lakers have overpowered the Timberwolves twice this season, already, and a third win against the Kevin Love-less Timberwolves may just snap the Lakers out of their moody depression.
On a sour note, Metta World Peace was sent home after he suffered a torn lateral meniscus on Monday night at Golden State. He will be reevaluated by the team doctors and an official timeline will be placed on his possible return. Initial reports do not paint a bright future.
Luckily for the Lakers, World Peace was not an especially effective player in either of the Lakers’ earlier two wins against Minnesota. World Peace averaged just 6.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in this season’s two wins against Ricky Rubio and company.
Rubio, incidentally, is one Minnesota player who enjoys facing the Lakers and not just because his Spanish pal Pau is in town. Rubio was still playing reduced minutes due to his return from injury when the Lakers last came to the Target Center. Still, Rubio dished seven assists in less than 30 minutes on the floor.
In the Staples Center meeting, the Spanish point guard was two rebounds shy of a triple-double. He had 13 points, 13 assists, and eight rebounds. Coming off 14 points and nine assists in Tuesday’s blowout win over the Detroit Pistons, the Lakers need to pay special attention to Rubio.
Unlike the last time these teams met, Andrei Kirilenko has returned from a calf injury that sidelined the Russian for nine games. Since returning, Kirilenko has averaged a modest 9.2 points and 3.5 rebounds in 23.7 minutes.
The Lakers’ returning forward, Gasol, is only averaging 21.5 minutes per game and has not yet found his shooting touch. He is only averaging 5.5 points per game on 27.8 percent from the field since returning. Also, he has missed three of his four free-throw attempts.
With Gasol still not fully reintegrated into the team, the Lakers have yet to taste their true potential. Only 11 games remain in the regular season, and Wednesday’s game against the Timberwolves is every bit as important to making the postseason and reintegrating Gasol as the final 10.