The Los Angeles Lakers have started 8-0 just twice in their storied history. A matchup with the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves would appear to give the Lakers a strong chance to accomplish that feat again.
Los Angeles looks to stay unbeaten and record its 12th consecutive victory over Minnesota on Tuesday night at the Staples Center.
Behind Pau Gasol’s(notes) fourth career triple-double, the Lakers recorded their most lopsided victory of the season, 121-96 over Portland on Sunday night. Lamar Odom(notes) had 21 points to lead seven Los Angeles players in double figures, helping compensate for a season-worst, 3-for-11 shooting performance from Kobe Bryant(notes).
“We’re just playing extremely well together,” Bryant said. “We’re a deep team. We’re an unselfish team, and this is what you get.”
One of the NBA’s two remaining unbeatens along with New Orleans, Los Angeles (7-0) has not opened with eight straight wins since starting a franchise-best 11-0 in 1997-98. The Lakers also started 8-0 in 1987-88, en route to the NBA championship.
The Lakers (7-0) are scoring a league-best 114 points per game - two ahead of second-place Houston. Gasol has averaged a team-best 24.1 points - just ahead of Bryant’s 22.9-point average - to help his team overcome the absence of starting center Andrew Bynum(notes), who is not expected to return from knee surgery until December.
One of the NBA’s two remaining unbeaten teams, Los Angeles had its best start in franchise history (11-0) in 1997-98 and was 8-0 to begin the 1987-88 campaign.
“We’ve been through so many battles, and we’re still growing as a team,” Gasol said. “Everybody is growing up together.”
The Lakers will next face a team that’s giving up a league-worst 114.4 points per game and has lost by 20 or more points four times during its current five-game slide. Minnesota (1-6) trailed 26-14 after the first quarter Sunday night en route to a 120-94 loss at previously-winless Houston.
The Timberwolves, who are 3-35 overall since Feb. 9, missed 57 of 91 shots to lower their league-worst shooting percentage to 38.7. Minnesota has dropped 40 of 45 on the road since the beginning of last season.
“We were mentally prepared for the game, but we couldn’t throw a pea into the ocean,” coach Kurt Rambis said. “Our confidence got sucked out of us, and we just couldn’t make a shot. Our defense was compromised, and it was a tough loss.”
Minnesota has lost its last 11 games against Los Angeles, allowing an average of 109.5 points in those matchups. Bryant scored 50 on March 18, 2007, to begin the current win streak over the Timberwolves, and has averaged 27.8 while playing all but one game during the run.
Gasol is averaging 21.7 points and 12 rebounds in the last six matchups with Minnesota.
The Lakers have won eight in a row at home against the Timberwolves and 34 of 40 all-time meetings in Los Angeles.