Kobe Bryant goes around defender Andrei Kirilenko during the Lakers'… (Jim Mone / Associated Press )
Lakers 120, Timberwolves 117 (final)
The Lakers escaped Minneapolis with a 117-120 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
Minnesota shaved a double-digit Lakers lead by intentionally fouling Dwight Howard, who struggled from the line.
Ricky Rubio's three-point attempt at the buzzer was blocked by Kobe Bryant, finally ending the Wolves' comeback.
Bryant led all scorers with 31 points, scoring 16 in the third quarter. Dwight Howard had 25 points, 16 rebounds, five blocked shots and five steals, despite playing through foul trouble.
The Lakers survived Howard shooting 7 of 17 from the free-throw line. They also had 21 turnovers while shooting 53.7% from the field and 45.5% from three-point range.
The Wolves had eight players in double figures, led by Nikola Pekovic with 19 points. Dante Cunningham was big late with 18 points as Minnesota shot 46.4% from the field.
Steve Nash had 16 points and eight assists as well as six turnovers. Bryant's seven assists were offset by six turnovers.
Jodie Meeks started at shooting guard as Bryant moved to small forward in place of injured Metta World Peace (knee). Meek had five points on two-of-seven shooting. Antawn Jamison had 18 points off the bench.
The Lakers, who play the Bucks on Thursday night in Milwaukee, improved their record to 37-35. The Wolves' record dips to 25-45.
Lakers 91, Timberwolves 77 (end of third quarter)
The Lakers exploded for 41 points in the third quarter against the Wolves, pulling ahead by 11 heading into the fourth.
Kobe Bryant leads all scorers with 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Pau Gasol and Antawn Jamison chipped in 15 points each as the Lakers have shot 58.1% from the field.
The Wolves have four scorers in double figures, led by Derrick Williams and Nikola Pekovic with 15 points each.
Minnesota scored 33 points in the third quarter, improving its field-goal percentage to 43.8% but struggled defensively against the Lakers.
Dwight Howard was limited by foul trouble but has 14 points and 12 rebounds.
After turning the ball over 15 times in the first half, the Lakers had only three in the third quarter.
Lakers 50, Timberwolves 46 (halftime)
The Lakers extended their lead over the Wolves to four points by halftime despite 15 turnovers.
Kobe Bryant and Antawn Jamison scored 12 points apiece to lead the Lakers.
Dwight Howard has already notched a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. He also blocked four shots before picking up his third foul with 1:41 left in the second quarter.
Minnesota, which was led by Nikola Pekovic with 13 points, shot only 36.2% from the field in the half.
The Lakers made 48.6% of their shots from the field but kept the Wolves close with seemingly non-stop turnovers.
Lakers 26, Timberwolves 23 (end of first quarter)
Kobe Bryant closed the first quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves with a dunk to give the Lakers a three-point lead.
Pau Gasol scored nine points to lead the Lakers, who shot 47.6% from the field as a team but turned the ball over seven times.
Nikola Pekovic had a strong start, putting in 10 points and collecting six boards in 10 minutes. The Wolves shot only 36% from the field.
Jodie Meeks started at shooting guard as Bryant moves to small forward for the injured Metta World Peace (knee). Meeks scored three points on one shot attempt.
The Lakers (36-35) visit the Minnesota Timberwolves (25-44) on Wednesday night.
The Wolves have been right alongside the Lakers this season, matching them injury for injury.
The Lakers are suddenly desperate for a win and Minnesota, coming off a lopsided victory over the Pistons in Detroit on Tuesday, would like nothing more than to play spoiler.
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers vs. Timberwolves.
Metta World Peace needs knee surgery, will miss at least six weeks
Mavericks a real threat to Lakers
Reintegrating Pau Gasol has made the Lakers vulnerable
Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.