Kobe Bryant vs. Timberwolves - 11.09.10

Kobe Bryant drives to basket against Timberwolves.

The Los Angeles Lakers matched the second-best start in franchise history at 8-0, with a sloppy 99-94 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center on Tuesday.

Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 33 points, including 23 of them in the first half. He hit only 3-13 from the field in the second half, as the Lakers were never able to put the pesky Timberwolves away until the final minute of the game.  Bryant bounced back from a sub-par game on Sunday against the Trail Blazers when he scored just 12 points on 3-11 shooting.

Pau Gasol had 18 points and 10 rebounds.  Lamar Odom shook off a foul-plagued evening, scoring 15 points and grabbing eight rebounds in just under 27 minutes of play.  Ron Artest added 13 points.

The biggest star of the night though was former UCLA standout Kevin Love, who scored 23 points and grabbed a career-high 24 rebounds for the Timberwolves.  It was the second 20/20 game of Love’s career.   Michael Beasley scored 17 points, and Sebastian Telfair added 13 points and 9 assists for the visitors, who lost to the Lakers for the 12th straight time.

The young Timberwolves, led by former Laker coach and player Kurt Rambis, fought the defending champs all game long, and even cut a seemingly-secure 11-point Laker lead to eight in the final seconds of the third quarter on a half-court heavy by Maurice Ager.  The Wolves closed to within two late in the fourth,  before Lamar Odom hit a 3-pointer and then a driving layup to give the Lakers an 94-87 lead, as they hung on for the win.

It was a lethargic performance by the Lakers, who were coming off a strong win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday, and may have very well looking past the young Timberwolves towards their Thursday night battle in Denver.   The game was marred by sloppy play as the Wolves turned the ball over 27 times, and the Lakers had 18.

The Lakers were also dominated on the glass for the second time in three games, as the Timberwolves held a 54-42 rebounding edge, including 26 on the offensive end.  The second chances helped the visitors hang in a game where they shot just 38.0% from the field.

The Lakers try to move to 9-0 on Thursday, facing their toughest test of the young season against the Nuggets in Denver.  The Lakers best start in franchise history is 11-0, accomplished by the 1997-98 team that went on to win 61 games.

Link: Lakers vs. Timberwolves Box Score