NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, December 11th (All times eastern)
Minnesota Timberwolves (3-19) at Los Angeles Lakers (17-3), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - It's David vs. Goliath on Friday night as Kurt Rambis returns to Staples Center with his Minnesota Timberwolves to take on the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers.
Rambis, a former player, assistant and head coach for the Lakers, left the club in the offseason to take over the Wolves. The California native spent nine of his 14 NBA seasons with the LA, winning four titles and two more as an assistant on Phil Jackson's staff, including last season. In fact Rambis is set to receive his latest championship ring prior to tonight's contest.
Things have been much tougher in Minneapolis. The woeful Wolves fell to 3-19 on the season Wednesday when Chris Paul scored the go-ahead basket with 1.4 seconds left, lifting the New Orleans Hornets to a 97-96 victory over the Timberwolves.
Ryan Gomes scored a team-high 21 points, while Al Jefferson added 17 points and 16 boards for the Timberwolves, who led by as many as 16 but scored just 32 in the second half on the way to their 19th loss of the season.
Minnesota, which had 21 turnovers, got 14 points and nine assists from Jonny Flynn, as well as 12 points and 11 rebounds off the bench from Kevin Love.
"We have a lead like that, just keep seeing it dwindle way, it's almost like you can do nothing about it," Flynn said. "It's definitely a tough one to swallow tonight."
The Lakers, meanwhile, have been cruising along without their old friend Rambis, winning their 10th straight and improving to an NBA-best 17-3 Wednesday when Kobe Bryant scored 27 and LA put the defensive clamps on Utah by holding the Jazz to six points in the final quarter, on the way to a 101-77 decision at Staples Center.
Bryant also had eight assists and six rebounds, while Pau Gasol powered his way for 19 points and 12 rebounds for Los Angeles, which used an incredible 27-2 spurt in the final period. That included 20 straight points. Utah shot 2- of-18 in the final 12 minutes and was outscored 28-6 in the last period.
Including the playoffs, the Lakers have beaten the Jazz 13 straight times at Staples Center. Utah's last victory over the Lakers in the building came on New Year's Day 2006.
Ron Artest scored 16 and Andrew Bynum scored 14 for the Lakers, who haven't lost since a November 15 home game against Houston. Lamar Odom finished with seven points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who moved to an impressive 14-2 at home.
"We struggled for three quarters and then we went on a run," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson. "That fourth quarter was an amazing quarter. We were able to apply some pressure."
The Lakers have won eight straight over the Timberwolves and six consecutive meetings between the two clubs at Staples Center.
12/11 10:33:46 ET