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Game Report: Timberwolves (5-2) defeat Lakers (3-5) 113 – 90

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The Lakers were blown out on their home court tonight – and the game was over early.

The Timberwolves were absolutely on fire to start the game, outscoring the Lakers 47-23 in the first quarter alone. In those first 12 minutes, Minnesota shot 76% from the field and 78% from beyond the arc, with Kevin Love and Kevin Martin scoring 18 points and 16 points, respectively.

The game was never close again. The Lakers did make a 23-8 run to end of the third quarter to cut the lead to 14 points, but could not get any closer the rest of the way.

The Timberwolves were led tonight by Ricky Rubio, who recorded a triple-double with 12 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds. Martin finished the night with 27 points, and Love finished with 25 and 13 rebounds, his seventh double-double in seven games.

Kevin Love is the very model of the “stretch 4” that Lakers’ coach Mike D’Antoni covets, but hasn’t been able to find so far on his current roster.

The Lakers top performers tonight were Steve Blake, with 19 points and eight assists, and Jodie Meeks, with 16 points. Pau Gasol had 11 points and 11 rebounds, and also added four assists and four blocks – it was the first time he’s had more than two blocks in a game this season.

Shawne Williams received floor time tonight, and played well. You would never guess that he was playing power forward, though, as Williams, who was a team-high +11 for the game, recorded eight points and four assists – but no rebounds – in 25 minutes of play.

While the Lakers weren’t able to close out quickly enough on the T-Wolves’ hot shooters tonight, they had a couple of obvious shortcomings on the offensive end as well.

The first was free-throw shooting – not enough attempts, and not enough makes. In the locker room before the game, the white board noted that Minnesota had the fewest blocks in the league this season, and so the game plan was to attack. But the Lakers only got to the line 18 times tonight, suggesting they settled for jumpers on most trips down the floor. And by making only 10 of those 18 free throw attempts (56%), they continued a recent trend of poor shooting from the line.

The other obvious offensive shortcoming tonight was the team’s inability to finish under the basket. They missed five-footers, lay-ups, dunks, and put-backs with alarming regularity tonight. Hopefully tonight’s game was an aberration in that regard.

Steve Nash was largely ineffective in only 13 minutes of playing time before leaving the game with back problems. He will visit the doctor tomorrow, and an update on his condition will be issued at that time. Lakers fans, however, will be rightly skeptical as to whether a trip to the doctor will do much to reduce Nash’s back pain, which is basically chronic at this stage of his career.

Two Lakers reached career milestones tonight. With his four blocked shots, Gasol passed Erick Dampier for 40th place in career blocks, with 1401, and by playing tonight Nash passed former Lakers great Shaquille O’Neal to move into a tie with Juwan Howard for 27th place in career games played, with 1,208.

The Lakers’ next game is on Tuesday at home versus the New Orleans Pelicans, to whom they lost this past Friday evening. In addition to coming up with a viable plan to slow down the dynamic Anthony Davis, the Lakers will also need to find the energy – and a sense of desperation – that has been missing since their win over Houston last Thursday.

Lakers’ Player of the Game

Steve Blake was the Lakers’ player of the game tonight, scoring 19 points on efficient shooting (7-11 FG, 5-7 3PT), and recording eight assists, three rebounds and three steals against just one turnover in a team-high 35 minutes.

Blake has been – by some distance – the Lakers’ best player through eight games.

Next Game

Tuesday, November 12 at 7:30 p.m. PST vs. the New Orleans Pelicans

This is an article by Craig Lawson. You can follow him on Twitter: @stevenashchroni

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