There's no dirge as Lakers surge past Timberwolves, 104-91

Something funny happened on the way to the memorial service for the Lakers' 2013-14 season.


They won a game.

It looked like things couldn't get any bleaker for the Lakers until they beat the Minnesota Timberwolves, 104-91.

Fans at Staples Center rejoiced. It wasn't the end of the road for the franchise that started a shooting guard at the point and was allegedly reeling from the loss of Kobe Bryant until February.

Happy days returned pretty quickly to the Lakers. Or maybe it was only one happy Friday night, but there were many efforts to single out.

Pau Gasol came close to a quadruple-double, three of the categories the pro-Lakers type — 21 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists and seven turnovers.

Nick Young had 25 points off the bench, including a 27-foot three-pointer with 1:59 left that put the Lakers up nine and earned a huge roar.

Xavier Henry was solid in his first NBA start at point guard, scoring 21 points with four assists and three turnovers. Jodie Meeks had an efficient 17 points on six-for-10 shooting.

Yes, that was the "We want tacos" chant in the final two minutes, the Lakers winning and holding the opponent under 100 points.

The Lakers, finished for the season? Not yet.

"We're not done," Gasol said. "This team is ready to continue to compete and continue to have fun and is not going to fold just because we're facing some injuries and adversity."

This being the Western Conference, where 10 teams are .500 or better — exactly seven more than the East — it will be very difficult for the Lakers (13-13) to make the playoffs.

If the Lakers wanted any inspiration, they knew they went 10-9 without Bryant until his return from a torn Achilles' tendon. It's not quite rallying-cry material, but they again face a long chunk of time without him because of his fractured knee.

"I think they're excited about disproving people like they did the first time and we'll do it again," Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni said earlier Friday.


The stakes have changed, though. Steve Blake is out until at least late January because of a torn ligament in his elbow. Jordan Farmar is sidelined until next week because of a torn hamstring. Steve Nash continues to sit out because of nerve damage in his back.

Henry preferred to be called "floor general" after the game because of, you know, the massive health problems encountered by all of the above.

Henry said he simply wanted to "go fast."

"Usually NBA games are slow, they're methodical," Henry said. "I'm not a traditional point guard so when I go in, I'll always attack and I'm aggressive."

There was even a surprise appearance by Chris Kaman in the first quarter, and again in the third quarter, the man at the end of the bench returning to relevance not long after complaining about a lack of playing time. He had six points and three rebounds in 16 minutes.

Gasol also complained recently about his minutes. He let his play talk for itself Friday.

The last six minutes didn't start well for Gasol, his sixth turnover leading to Luc Richard Mbah a Moute's layup at the other end.

But then Gasol dunked in Henry's miss for a 92-89 Lakers lead, drilled a three-pointer from the right corner and made an eight-footer.

He blocked Nikola Pekovic's shot with 2:51 left and forced Kevin Love into a bad shot. He then added a steal, a mid-range jumper and an offensive rebound.

The last stat of the game was fittingly a Gasol rebound with 4.9 seconds left, after which he playfully dribbled up to referee Tom Washington and crouched down in a ready position as if he wanted Washington to try to steal the ball from him.

"I thought he played really well," D'Antoni said. "And I could just go on and just name about everybody else."

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan