With seven minutes to go in the game, Kobe Bryant got the outlet pass in a three-on-two, dribbled down, made a beautiful ball fake and had an open lay-up.
And he missed it. But that was okay because Trevor Ariza made an athletic play to save the tipped rebound from going out of bounds and passed to a wide-open Kobe in the corner for a three. He missed that.
It was just that kind of shooting night for the Lakers. Fortunately, they were playing the Minnesota Timberwolves, so the Lakers won anyway 98-86.
The Lakers took the lead for good midway through the third, Pulled away in the fourth quarter and dragged their shooting percentage up to 44.7% (still well below their season average). Pau Gasol had 18 points on 7 of 12 shooting, but the Lakers didn’t get the ball to him nearly enough while he was covered by the much shorter Craig Smith.
Instead, there was a lot of Kobe and other jumpers. Kobe shot 9 of 24 on the night, got to the line just six times, but finished with 26. Derek Fisher was just 2 of 7 from the floor.
“Is there room for improvement? Yes, but it’s December. There should be room for improvement,” Derek Fisher said after the game.
After Al Jefferson started 3 for 4, the Lakers switched Andrew Bynum on him and the Lakers' center’s length really bothered Jefferson. Bynum blocked one of Jefferson’s favorite running hooks in the lane and bothered him so much that the Wolves leading scorer shot just 8 of 20 from the field.
While the fourth quarter started to see some flow in the game (at least until the free throw parade at the end), the first half that was filled with missed shots and turnovers, and felt like a mid-90s Knicks game against the Heat. The Lakers were making more shots but what kept Minnesota around was the 11 offensive rebounds that led to 11 second chance points.