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Flat performance against Timberwolves leaves Lakers looking for inspiration

Kobe Bryant downplayed the uninspired performance by the Lakers against the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday night at Staples Center.

Ron Artest and Lamar Odom found things that gave them something to pause about.

In any case, there wasn’t much to be pleased about during the Lakers’ 99-94 victory over Minnesota.

The Lakers were outhustled.

They were outrebounded, 54-42, 24 of those claimed by former UCLA Bruin Kevin Love.

The Lakers turned the ball over 18 times, albeit offset by Minnesota’s 27.

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The Lakers shot 44.9% from the field, barely their running offense at times.

For the second time in the last three games, the Lakers put forth a lackluster effort against a team that probably won’t sniff the playoffs this season — Toronto on Friday was the other game.

But that didn’t seem to bother Bryant, who finished with 33 points on 12-for-28 shooting against the Timberwolves. He also had four turnovers.

Bryant pursed his lips and gave a flippant response when asked how he felt about barely escaping a Minnesota team that dropped to 1-7.

“I felt devastated,” Bryant remarked.

When he asked if there was such a good thing as a bad win, or if it mattered whether it was a good win or not, Bryant said:

“Why would it?” Bryant said. “You got to get better. You got to step back. You realize some of the things you did were correctable and you make corrections. Every game is not going to be perfect. We know that.”

But the Lakers also claim they are striving to improve, to get better.

They did improve to 8-0, but it was the way the Lakers did it that left a sour taste in Artest’s mouth.

“We’ll take the win,” Artest said. “But you know when you lose, you have to come back and play better. That’s what tonight is. Tonight was not nice. It wasn’t a good game for us.”

Then he blamed himself for what transpired.

“I think I started it, though,” Artest said. “When you don’t do the right thing every time, it’s kind of a domino effect.”

Artest and Odom were in foul trouble most of the game, both finishing with five fouls.

Odom had 15 points and eight rebounds but he had four turnovers.

“It’s like when you win, you try to get better,” Odom said. “When you lose, obviously you have to try to get better. We try to play perfect. We try to win 82 games and lose none. You always can look at the tape and find out what you can do better, and that’s what we try to do.

“You always try to play your best all the time. So you always nit-pick and find things, even when you do win a game.”

Next up for the Lakers are the Nuggets in Denver on Thursday night.

That, Artest said, should inspire the Lakers.

“We understand what happened (Tuesday) night,” Artest said. “It’ll be like a must-win for us because of how we played (Tuesday) night. We can’t be happy playing like that.”

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner


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