Kobe set to pass MJ as Lakers visit Wolves

(SportsNetwork.com) - Barring any setback, Los Angeles Lakers future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant should pass legend Michael Jordan on the NBA's all-time scoring list Sunday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Bryant, a 16-time All-Star and five-time champion, is nine points (32,284) away from passing his idol Jordan (32,292) for third on the list. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,387) and Karl Malone (36,928) are ahead.

Bryant was asked about passing Jordan this week after practice.

"It's a huge honor to be here in this position. I can't believe I've scored that many points especially from where my career started," he said. "It's a huge honor. It wasn't something I thought about growing up as a kid. It was championships."

LA's franchise player continued on the matter.

"It wasn't a goal that I set out to accomplish. Being in that company with Michael and Kareem and the other great scorers, I think that's most fun part," Bryant said. "Being a part of that group I grew up idolizing and learning from and aspiring to be one day, that's the true honor in it."

The Lakers received 22 points from Bryant in Friday's thrilling 112-110 overtime triumph against the defending champion San Antonio Spurs in the opener of a three-game road trip. Nick Young, who went back-and-forth with Bryant in Thursday's competitive practice, stole the headlines when he buried the go-ahead 3-pointer with 7.4 seconds left.

"I have more confidence in him making those shots when guys are draped all over him," Bryant said of Young, who made 6-of-9 3-pointers.

The Lakers sank 12 of their 24 shots from downtown and scored 25 points on 19 San Antonio turnovers.

Young finished with a team-high 29 points off the bench, while Jordan Hill had 14 points and 10 rebounds, Carlos Boozer added 14 points and 13 boards off the bench and Jeremy Lin scored 14 as well for Los Angeles, which scored a season-high 61 bench points.

The Lakers played well in the Alamo City, one day after Bryant ripped his teammates for being soft. He compared them to the toilet paper brand Charmin.

Los Angeles, which is 4-7 away from home, has won two in a row after losing three straight and will close the trip Monday at Indiana.

Minnesota will put an end to its four-game homestand (1-2) Sunday and has lost seven of the past eight games.

The Timberwolves defeated Portland Wednesday to stop a six-game slide, but fell back into the loss column with Friday's 111-92 setback versus Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook recorded 34 points, six assists and six rebounds to lead the Thunder.

Wolves rookie Andrew Wiggins and Shabazz Muhammad scored 18 points apiece, while Thaddeus Young provided 16 points for Minnesota, which never led during the game. The T-wolves had 16 turnovers converted into 25 OKC points and have failed to reach the 100-point mark in each of the last three games.

"It seemed like we felt good about ourselves against Portland," said Minnesota coach Flip Saunders. "We didn't have that edge and they mauled us."

Saunders' squad is 3-9 in the Twin Cities and will play two straight and six of the next seven games away from home. Wolves guard Mo Williams (back spasms) is questionable Sunday. Minnesota is still without Kevin Martin, Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic.

The T-wolves are 1-16 when allowing 100-plus points and 1-17 when being outshot. However, they have played tough defense with 10 or more steals in 10 of the past 13 contests.

Los Angeles and Minnesota are the last two teams in opponents' scoring, allowing 110.1 and 108.9 points, respectively. The Timberwolves recorded a 120-119 victory over the Lakers on Nov. 28, as Bryant scored 26 points and Wolves rookie Zach LaVine netted a career-best 28 points.

The Timberwolves have won four of the last five meetings in this series.