Lakers 104, Timberwolves 91

Forrest Lee, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- Guard Nick Young came off the bench to score 25 points, guiding the Los Angeles Lakers to a 104-91 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves before a sellout crowd of 18,997 at the Staples Center on Friday night.
Young connected on 9 of 14 from the floor, including 4 of 6 behind the arc, as the Lakers prevailed in their first outing without guard Kobe Bryant, who is out at least six weeks with a fractured knee. But Young, guards Xavier Henry and Jodie Meeks and center Pau Gasol picked up the slack, as the Lakers (13-13) claimed their third victory in four games by beating the Timberwolves (13-14).
Gasol just missed recording a triple-double, finishing with 21 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. Henry also scored 21, while Meeks added 17.
Forward Kevin Love had 25 points and 13 rebounds to lead Minnesota, while center Nikola Pekovic added 22 points and 13 rebonds.
Young's four-point play with 2:37 remaining in the third gave the Lakers a 77-75 lead. They never trailed again. A dunk by forward Wesley Johnson and another bucket by Young helped the Lakers carry an 81-76 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Minnesota closed to 90-89 after a layup by Luc Mbah a Moute with 5:10 left, but that was as close as the Timberwolves got.
Henry scored 11 of his points in the first quarter as the Lakers staked themselves to a 35-26 lead entering the second. Forward Chris Kaman, who had been buried on the Lakers' bench and hadn't played any significant minutes in a month, also gave them a lift, blocking a dunk by Martin and leading to a slam on the other end by forward Wesley Johnson for a 30-19 lead with 2:21 left in the first.
But the Lakers got sloppy in the second quarter, committing 10 of their 13 first-half turnovers and allowing the Timberwolves to grab a 53-51 lead at intermission. Love scored 11 points in the quarter.
Minnesota managed to outscore the Lakers 27-16 in the quarter despite shooting only 38.1 percent (8 of 21) compared to the Lakers' 50 percent (7 of 14). The Timberwolves hit just 38.3 percent (18 of 47) in the half compared to 58.3 percent (21 of 36) for Los Angeles.
Free throws also helped the Timberwolves as they converted 13 of 14 attempts compared to 6 of 8 for the Lakers.
NOTES: Minnesota PG Ricky Rubio missed the team's shootout with an unknown illness. It wasn't known until less than 30 minutes before tipoff whether he would play. ... Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni on newly acquired G Kendall Marshall, who signed on Thursday: "He had a great college career and trying to find his footing in the NBA. We'll see what he's got." ... Despite the absence of injured G-F Kobe Bryant and the rash of injuries that have plagued the Lakers, D'Antoni still believes the team will make the playoffs. "Yeah, we can get there," D'Antoni said before adding that the team will need the return of its high-profile players, most notably Bryant and PG Steve Nash. "It's pretty simple. We've got to win games." ... The Timberwolves gave one of their best performances of the season in their last visit to LA, hammering the Lakers 113-90 on Nov. 10, when they scored a franchise-record 47 points in the first quarter.

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