Los Angeles Lakers: Nikola Pekovic
December, 20, 2013
By Dave McMenamin
LOS ANGELES -- The last time the Los Angeles Lakers hosted the Minnesota Timberwolves this season without Kobe Bryant in the lineup, they trailed 47-23 at the end of the first quarter.
There was no Bryant again Friday, out because of a fracture in his left knee rather than his Achilles injury, only this time L.A. found itself up 35-26 after one.
The solid play only continued from there as L.A. again resembled the all-for-one, one-for-all squad that the Lakers had started to embody before Bryant's return.
Considering everything the Lakers have already been through in his short season so far, to be 13-13 at this point is no small accomplishment.
How it happened: Pau Gasol neared a triple-double with 21 points (including seven straight at one point in the fourth quarter), 12 rebounds and eight assists and Nick Young scored 25 points off the bench to lead the way for L.A., which jumped ahead early, let Minnesota creep back in and then piled it on again late.
What it means: The Lakers are now 11-9 this season without Bryant and passed the first crucial test of avoiding a letdown in his absence. Another encouraging sign? Gasol keeping up his resurgent play even without Bryant in there looking to set him up.
Hits: Xavier Henry had 21 points, four rebounds and four assists while filling in as the starting point guard.
Jodie Meeks scored 17 points on 6-for-10 shooting.
Young took a charge in the second half when the Wolves were surging to get some momentum back for L.A.
Misses: Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic combined for 47 points and 26 rebounds.
Stat of the game: 19. That's the number of turnovers L.A. had, leading to 10 points for Minnesota. On the plus side, the Lakers collected 27 assists on their 42 made field goals.
Up next: L.A. has a two-game trip through Golden State on Saturday and Phoenix on Monday before returning to Staples Center to host the defending champion Miami Heat on Christmas Day.