Kobe Bryant goes for a big dunk over Chris Johnson during the first half of… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)
Lakers 116 - Timberwolves 94 (end of regulation)
The Lakers blew out the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night 116-94.
Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 33 points, shooting 13-22 (59.1%) from the field. Bryant also hit four of eight three-point attempts.
The Lakers had a tremendous shooting night from long range, converting 16-32 from behind the arc.
Jodie Meeks (16 points) hit four, Steve Blake (13 points) converted three and both Steve Nash (10 points) and Metta World Peace (six) points nailed two apiece.
Antawn Jamison was the Lakers' second-leading scorer with 17, the Lakers got 52 points in total off the bench. Blake in particular has a strong night with seven rebounds and six assists.
The Wolves were led by J.J. Barea, always a problem for the Lakers, who scored 20 points in 26 minutes. Luke Ridnour scored 19 on 7-10 shooting as the Wolves hit 45.7% from the field.
Minnesota has been decimated all year with injury. On Thursday night, they were without Kevin Love, Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger, Andrei Kirilenko and Malcolm Lee. Starting center Nikola Pekovic sat after just nine minutes with an abdominal strain.
The Lakers shot 53% from the field, improving to 29-30. The victory pulled them within two games of the eighth-place Houston Rockets.
The Wolves dip to 20-35, firmly in 12th place in the Western Conference. The Lakers next play Sunday, when they host the 33-23 Atlanta Hawks.
Lakers 91 - Timberwolves 75 (end of third quarter)
The Lakers hit 15 three-pointers through three quarters to take a 16-point lead into the fourth quarter against the Timberwolves.
Kobe Bryant hit four behind the arc, leading the team with 33 points. Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks both added three more apiece off the bench. Antawn Jamison and Blake both had 11 points. Meeks had 9 points through three quarters.
J.J. Barea was the leading scorer for the Wolves with 18 points. Minnesota shot a solid 50.8% from the field, but the Lakers were even better at 53.1%.
The Lakers actually shot better from three-point range (55.6%) than from inside the arc (51.4%). Free throws were another story -- the Lakers hit just 47.1% (8-17), far worse than their performance from deep.
Lakers 57 - Timberwolves 47 (halftime)
J.J. Barea caught fire for the Timberwolves, scoring 13 points in 15 minutes of play. The Timberwolves closed within two points but the Lakers responded.
Kobe Bryant finished with 22 points on 9-15 shooting. Steve Blake did his best to offset Barea's outburst, collecting eight points and four assists off the bench.
The Lakers shot 52.4% from the field -- the Wolves 47.6%. L.A. had just five turnovers and hit eight three-pointers on 16 attempts. Minnesota had seven turnovers and hit 5-10 from three.
Nikola Pekovic was declared out by the Wolves after just over nine minutes with an abdominal strain.
Lakers 28 - Timberwolves 22 (end of first quarter)
The Lakers stormed ahead quickly over the Minnesota Timberwolves, building an early 10-point lead. The Wolves responded, down 16-6, with seven straight points and a 10-2 run to tie at 18.
With 11 points from Kobe Bryant, the Lakers finished the first with a 10-4 run to finish the period up six.
The Lakers shot 52.4% from the field, hitting 3-6 from three-point range. The Wolves hit 47.6% with eight from Nikola Pekovic.
Dante Cunningham started in place of Andrei Kirilenko (calf).
The Lakers (28-30) will play the Minnesota Timberwolves (20-34) for the second time this season on Thursday night at Staples Center.
Minnesota has struggled more than most teams this year with injuries, notably losing All-Star power forward Kevin Love for all but 18 games with hand problems.
The Lakers are still in the playoff chase in the Western Conference but they won't be if they lose to teams like the Wolves at home.
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers vs. Timberwolves.
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