Los Angeles Lakers Vs. Minnesota Timberwolves: Fan Preview

The Los Angeles Lakers were unfortunate to have ended the first half of the NBA season with a loss on the road against the Oklahoma City Thunder. However, the Lakers will have an opportunity to get things in the second half started off on the right foot as they host three straight games at home. Their first matchup will be against the surprise Minnesota Timberwolves who currently sit at 18-17 - just a half game out of the eighth spot in the Western Conference. Despite their recent play being much better than previous years, there is still something the Timberwolves have not done in nearly half a decade; beaten the Lakers.

The Lakers have beaten the Timberwolves 16 consecutive times and if they want to do it for a 17th straight time, they may be without star guard Kobe Bryant. For those who didn't watch the All-Star game or have been living under a rock, Bryant fractured his nose and sustained a concussion in the All-Star game. Dwayne Wade of the East All-Stars fouled Bryant hard, resulting in the injury. Bryant leads the NBA in scoring with 28.4 PPG and a Lakers team without him is going to have to work extra hard to earn a victory.

The last time these two teams met on January 29 Bryant poured in 35 points and collected 14 rebounds, making him the key to the 106-101 victory in Minnesota. If the Lakers have to face off against Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love minus Bryant, the Lakers could be in trouble.

One advantage the Lakers have is that the Timberwolves will face them in the middle of a back-to-back-to-back and the first leg was against the Los Angeles Clippers on February 28. The Lakers' twin towers of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum are both going to have to have monstrous games for the Lakers. Not to mention starters Metta World Peace and Derek Fisher are going to have to step things up to make up for the possible loss of Bryant.

I expect Love and the Timberwolves to come into Los Angeles hungry for a win. If Bryant doesn't play and the Lakers can't compensate, it may be a tough time for the Lakers. Regardless if Bryant plays, I expect a big game out of Love - who had 33 points and 13 rebounds the last time these two teams met. I also would expect the Lakers to want to start the second half off on the right foot and make sure they continue their strong play at home. If anything, Andrew Goudelock a.k.a. the "Mini Mamba" will help the Lakers take care of business against a competitive Timberwolves team.

Prediction: Lakers 108 - Timberwolves 100

David is co-founder of wrapupp sports blog where they post fresh content daily and present sports blogs and sports opinions - all with a West Coast bias. Growing up in the Bay Area, David is a huge supporter of all the local sports teams; the Giants, Athletics, Warriors, Sharks, 49ers, and Raiders. His one fault, admittedly, as many of his friends and family would say, is his love for the Los Angeles Lakers. Growing up, Magic Johnson was his favorite basketball player and he fell in love with the team. He chalks it up to, "Not knowing any better". Now his love for sports has turned just as academic as it is intuitive and he follows most all sports all over the nation.

You can follow David on Twitter: @officialwrapupp

Sources:

NBA.com. Lakers vs. Timberwolves Preview. NBA 2012.

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Updated Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012