Wolves record: 18-37
The Wolves surrender height and reach nearly everywhere to a visitor with the NBA’s best record, from Kobe Bryant’s 3-plus-inch advantage over Randy Foye at one guard spot to Pau Gasol’s lengthy presence.
On Sunday, the Lakers won at Target Center for the second time in three weeks, this time a 111-108 decision in which matchup nightmare Lamar Odom proved decisive with a 25-point, 14-rebound performance that supplemented Bryant’s 28 points and Gasol’s 25.
“That’s why those guys got some rings,” Wolves guard Sebastian Telfair said, referring to a current collection of Lakers still looking for its first title.
The Wolves lost for the fourth time in five games without injured star Al Jefferson — and for the 10th time in their past 12 — while the Lakers just continue to chug without injured center Andrew Bynum.
Ryan Gomes and Sebastian Telfair had 20 points apiece to lead the Wolves (18-37), and Craig Smith hit his first eight shots and finished 9 of 10 on his way to 19 points.
Yet for all that success, the Lakers had plenty of problems putting this depleted Wolves team away. Smith made his first eight shots from the field, the last two on breakaway layups to give Minnesota an 80-78 lead after three quarters.
Bryant converted a three-point play and then a baseline turnaround jumper over Foye with his tongue wagging Jordan-style for a 106-103 lead. He added two free throws and Foye missed a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer to seal it.
The size and length of the league’s best team was clearly evident during the first half when Gasol scored 17 points. Craig Smith jumped off the bench to provide some relief to the Minnesota frontcourt. With Smith producing 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting, the Wolves were able to grab the lead heading into the final quarter.
“I’d say overall Craig [Smith] was very good, just finding openings in their defense and moving,” McHale said. “Like I said, there were some real positives, some tough breaks didn’t go our way.”
The Wolves activated Bobby Brown for Sunday’s game but only so he could sit in uniform beside the coaches and learn the team’s way. Neither Williams nor Brown practiced Saturday because Thursday’s trade with Sacramento hadn’t been completed until Rashad McCants and Calvin Booth took their physicals later that day.
“They were officially ready to practice as of about 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon,” Wolves coach Kevin McHale said. “The problem is, we practiced at noon.”