Lakers pull out a victory over the Timberwolves, 104-91

Lakers pull out a victory over the Timberwolves, 104-91
Lakers guard Jodie Meeks tries to help center Robert Sacre stop a driving by Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic (14) in the first half Friday night at Staples Center. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Playing without their top three point guards and All-Star Kobe Bryant, the Lakers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves, 104-91, at Staples Center on Friday night.

Nick Young led the Lakers with 25 points, hitting four of six three-point shots. Pau Gasol neared a triple-double with 21 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.

Gasol was huge for the Lakers in the fourth quarter with the game still in question, scoring seven consecutive points to push the Lakers ahead by six.

Starting at point guard, Xavier Henry also scored 21, dishing four assists while committing only three turnovers.

Kevin Love scored 25 points and had 13 rebounds to lead the Wolves, who shot only 34.7% from the field. Nikola Pekovic contributed 22 points and 13 rebounds in the loss.

Turnovers were a problem for both teams. The Lakers had 19 gaffes, including seven from Gasol and five from Young.

Wesley Johnson played some backup point guard for the Lakers, dishing five assists. Jodie Meeks scored 17 and had four assists.

Point guard Kendall Marshall, who was signed by the team earlier in the day, did not play.  Steve Blake (elbow), Steve Nash (back), Jordan Farmar (hamstring) and Bryant (knee) were all sidelined.

The Lakers shot 53.8% from the field but the Wolves dominated the offensive glass with 22 to just seven for the home team.

The Lakers, who even their record at 13-13, avenged a 113-90 loss to Minnesota (13-14) on Nov. 10 at Staples, tying the season series at one. They also overtake the Wolves  in the standings, climbing to 10th place in the Western Conference.

The Lakers will visit the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night in Oakland.

Minnesota will stay in Los Angeles for the weekend, playing the Clippers on Sunday.


Lakers 81, Timberwolves 76 (end of third quarter)

The Lakers reestablished a lead in the third quarter to forge ahead by five entering the final quarter.

Nick Young scored 19 points off the bench to lead the Lakers, who shot 58.9% as a team.

Kevin Love was the game's leading scorer with 25 points. He also has 12 rebounds. Minnesota shot only 38.6% from the field but had 15 offensive rebounds to just three for the Lakers.

Pau Gasol has 12 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as well as five turnovers.

As a team, the Lakers turned the ball over 17 times but the Wolves weren't far behind at 13.

Starting at point guard, Xavier Henry had 17 points with three assists and three turnovers.

Timberwolves 53, Lakers 51 (halftime)

Playing without a point guard proved to be difficult for the Lakers in the second quarter.

Coach Mike D'Antoni didn't turn to recently signed Kendall Marshall, instead relying on swingmen Xavier Henry, Nick Young, Jodie Meeks and Wesley Johnson to play the position by committee.

The Lakers, who led by nine after the first quarter, turned the ball over 13 times in the first half, including five from Young and three from Henry.

Kevin Love led the Wolves with 20 points to help Minnesota forge a two-point lead.

Henry and Young each scored 13 points, while Pau Gasol had eight points and six assists to pace the Lakers, who shot 58.3% from the field.

Minnesota, which shot 38.3% from the field, collected nine offensive rebounds, compared to one for the Lakers.

Lakers 35, Timberwolves 26 (end of first quarter)

The Lakers looked a lot better on Friday against the Timberwolves than they did against Minnesota in November, when they gave up 47 points in the first quarter in a home loss.

After 12 minutes at Staples Center, the Lakers had a nine-point lead over the Wolves.

Starting out of position at point guard, Henry led the Lakers with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting.  He dished only one assist but did not commit a turnover.

Chris Kaman, getting first-quarter minutes after a long stretch out of the rotation because of back issues and coaching decisions, had the play of the quarter with a block on a Kevin Martin dunk attempt.

Wesley Johnson scored on a lob in transition, bringing the crowd at Staples Center to its feet.

The Wolves were led by Martin with 10 points. Kevin Love scored nine for Minnesota, which shot 40.0% from the field.

The Lakers made 63.6% of their shots, extending their lead to 11 before the Timberwolves closed the gap to nine by quarter's end.


The Lakers (12-13) will play their first game without Kobe Bryant on Friday. He suffered a fracture in his knee Tuesday during a win over the Memphis Grizzlies that will keep him sidelined for about six weeks.

The Minnesota Timberwolves (13-13) visit Staples Center for the second time, after destroying the Lakers, 113-90, on Nov. 10.

Injuries have decimated the Lakers at point guard. Steve Nash (back), Steve Blake (elbow), Jordan Farmar (hamstring) and Bryant are all out.

Xavier Henry will start at the one, out of position. The Lakers also signed Kendall Marshall on Friday to help at the point.

For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers vs. Memphis Timberwolves.


Email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.