Published January 29, 2012
Andrew Bynum added 21 points for the Lakers, who won for just the second time in nine road games this season. They led by 18 in the third quarter, then withstood a furious Timberwolves charge to hang on for their second victory in six games.
Kevin Love had 33 points and 13 rebounds and Michael Beasley added 18 points and 12 boards for the Wolves, who lost to the Lakers for the 16th straight time.
Minnesota led 94-93 with 3:19 to play, but the Lakers' size was too much down the stretch. Bynum threw down two dunks and Bryant slithered into the lane for two clutch jumpers to turn back the young Wolves.
The Lakers staggered into Target Center on Sunday night with four losses in five games and an ugly 1-7 mark on the road. Their struggling offense in new coach Mike Brown's first season had failed to top 100 points in 13 straight games, the club's longest streak since the shot clock was implemented in 1954.
But the Lakers shot 50 percent from the field and 42 percent from 3-point range against the Wolves.
What had been a sleeper of a game turned into a heart-pounder in the final 17 minutes.
The Lakers were in complete control midway through the third quarter, shooting 55 percent and suffocating the young Wolves offense. Bryant was feeling it, yapping at Wes Johnson after drilling a 3-pointer right in his grill and Gasol's layup gave the Lakers a 73-55 lead with 5 minutes to play in the period.
Ricky Rubio had just one point, two assists and two rebounds at that point, and the Wolves were unable to get anything going outside of Love's typically efficient night.
Then Wolves coach Rick Adelman switched to a zone defense and Beasley and Anthony Randolph added some much-needed energy to rally the team. Martell Webster hit a 3, Randolph threw down an alley-oop from Rubio and the Spanish rookie finished a 19-6 quarter-closing surge with a running bank shot to cut the Lakers' lead to 79-74 heading into the fourth.
Rubio's pull-up jumper tied the game at 89 with 6 minutes to play.
But the Lakers finally started using their size to find holes in the zone and overpower the undersized Wolves.
Gasol had an awful night in Milwaukee, shooting 6 of 18. But he was sharp from the start against the Wolves, hitting his first four and scoring 14 on 6-for-8 shooting in the first quarter.
Rubio finished with five points, eight assists and four rebounds. Webster had 10 points.
NOTES: Bryant surpassed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most field goals made in franchise history. ... Adelman interviewed for the Lakers coaching job. "I never look back on something like that," he said. "When I interviewed, they still had the same people they have now. They're a talented team." ... Brad Miller made his season debut for the Wolves, scoring three points in 8 minutes. ... The Wolves bench outscored the Lakers' 42-15 and they outrebounded Los Angeles 52-41 while committing just four turnovers.