Below are five things to take away from the Lakers’ 116-94 victory Thursday over the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center:
1. The Lakers didn’t let down throughout the game. Kudos to the Lakers for not making this game closer than it should’ve been. The Lakers led by double digit leads for most of the game and never let Minnesota really have a fighting chance despite Rick Rubio’s 13 points and 12 assists. That’s hardly been the case in past games, including one a month ago where the Lakers nearly cost a 29-point lead at Minnesota. The Lakers have a large hill still to climb into playoff contention. So no need in wasting energy against teams that shouldn’t field much of a problem.
2. Kobe Bryant became a scorer again. The Lakers are better suited long term when Bryant strikes a balance between scoring and passing. But it’s hard to fault Bryant from completely taking over when he’s constantly getting great looks. Bryant’s 33 points on 13 of 22 shooting remained a product of Bryant’s aggressiveness all around. He made five of his attempts close to the basket. Bryant’s effecitve floor spacing also contributed to going 4 of 8 from three-point range.
It’s easy to get numb to Bryant’s greatness. But it’s mind boggling that Bryant at age 34 is moving with the fluidity most NBA players show in their prime. As much as of a high volume shooter he was against Minnesota, none of Bryant’s shots seemed forced. Instead, Bryant became opted for the scoring role because it gave him the best chance to make a positive imprint on the game.