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News » Lakers crown Minnesota wannabes


Lakers crown Minnesota wannabes


Lakers crown Minnesota wannabes LOS ANGELES -- Kurt Rambis received his 2009 NBA championship ring before his team's late tipoff against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. Asked if he was going to show the ring to his team, the Timberwolves coach said, "Absolutely."

"It's what we play for," he said.

But the defending champions showed just how far Rambis' new team is from winning the NBA's most coveted prize.

Kobe Bryant, playing with a fractured right index finger, scored 20 points as the Lakers pulled away from the Timberwolves for a 104-92 victory Friday night at Staples Center. Minnesota hung around for a half, but mismatches, experience and depth prevailed soon thereafter.

"They look determined to do it again," Rambis said of the Lakers.

The Lakers have won 11 straight.

Al Jefferson scored a game-high 24 points, and Kevin Love matched his career high with 19 rebounds for Minnesota, which lost to Los Angeles for the ninth straight time. The Wolves had a hard time guarding big men Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, who combined for 29 points and 27 rebounds -- 20 of those boards from Gasol.

"They're both 7-1, and NBA champions. That's a tough matchup for us," said Love. "We're an undersized team."

Bryant suffered a fracture of the outer layer of bone in his right index finger in the second quarter. After halftime, team doctors fashioned him a splint and he played 12 1/2 more minutes, scoring 10 more points.

"You love that competitiveness. I wish I had a team of 12 Kobe Bryants," Rambis said.

The Timberwolves made a game of it early with some of their best Basketball of the season, clamping down defensively after the Lakers used a 10-0 run to take a 26-16 lead on a Gasol dunk with 3:01 remaining.

At that point, L.A. centers Gasol (10) and Andrew Bynum (four) had combined for 14 relatively easy baskets. After that timeout, the duo was limited to one Bynum basket, a dunk after a series of tips left him wide open underneath.

Ramon Sessions' steal and dunk with 7 seconds left pulled the Timberwolves within 56-54 at halftime. Sessions, 6 for 6 from the floor, and Jefferson each had 12 first-half points.

"We protected our home in the first half -- we protected the paint," Jefferson said.

But the Lakers took control in the third quarter, starting the second half with a 13-5 run and never really looking back. Bynum scored off an offensive rebound, and Bryant hit back-to-back baskets for a 69-59 lead.

Corey Brewer cut that lead to eight points with a monster dunk over Derek Fisher, but that was the last real highlight of the night for Minnesota, which made only five field goals in the third quarter. The Lakers finished with a 12-0 run for an 86-68 lead.

An alley-oop from Sessions to Ryan Hollins pulled the Wolves to within 92-81 with just under 7 minutes left in the game, but ...

Minnesota has lost three straight, and 20 overall against just three wins.


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Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 13, 2009

 

 
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