Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Postgame Grades for Los Angeles

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured Columnist IVMarch 13, 2017

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Postgame Grades for Los Angeles

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    Entering Sunday night, the Los Angeles Lakers owned a 22-game winning streak against the Minnesota Timberwolves

    However, after a 113-90 drubbing at the hands of the T'Wolves, the Lakers ceded bragging rights to Rick Adelman's squad for the time being. 

    In a blowout of epic proportions, Minnesota led wire-to-wire thanks to a franchise-record 47-point first quarter. It was the first time a team had scored 47 points in a single quarter since 2007, according to Basketball-Reference.

    The Lakers were out of sorts defensively all night long. They were gashed by Minnesota's big guns to the tune of 48.9 percent shooting from the floor and a 50 percent rate from beyond the arc. 

    Kevin Love put forth yet another dominant performance, scoring 25 points and pulling down 13 rebounds while Ricky Rubio recorded his second career triple-double, compiling 12 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds in the win. 

    For L.A., there were few bright spots. Only three players in purple and gold finished the night in double figures.

    As a team, the Lakers shot a putrid 38 percent from the field, but they did manage to convert on a respectable 10-of-26 three-pointers.

Point Guard: Steve Nash

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    After sitting out the second game of a back-to-back against the New Orleans Pelicans, Steve Nash returned to the Los Angeles Lakers' starting lineup on Sunday night—just not for long. 

    As has largely been the case this season, Nash wasn't much of an offensive catalyst due to a physical ailment. 

    Nash managed just 13 minutes in the loss, and he didn't make it out of the locker room to start the second half due to back pain. 

    It's become abundantly clear that Nash is a shell of his former self. His inability to stay on the floor yet again was just another sobering reminder that the future Hall of Famer's physical capabilities are quickly deteriorating. 

    In a blowout loss, it wasn't imperative that Nash play his normal allotment of minutes, but it was discouraging nonetheless to see the 39-year-old bow out early. 


    Grade: Incomplete 

Shooting Guard: Steve Blake

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    Steve Blake drew a difficult defensive assignment in Kevin Martin, who was in rhythm early, scoring 12 of the Minnesota Timberwolves' first 21 points on 5-of-6 shooting.

    It didn't help that Martin had four inches on Blake, so it should be noted that the Los Angeles Lakers' interim shooting guard was at an unfair disadvantage from the start.

    Despite his early struggles on the defensive end, Blake's offensive production picked up steadily throughout the evening. He wound up being one of the few Lakers who had success beyond the arc. 

    Blake scored a team-high 19 points and helped contribute 11 third-quarter points during a frame in which the Lakers actually outscored the Minnesota Timberwolves by five. 

    He also led the Lakers with eight assists.


    Grade: B

Small Forward: Nick Young

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    Nick Young flirted with the dreaded more-shots-than-points stat line all night long, and his inconsistent play was yet another reminder of how desperately the Los Angeles Lakers miss Kobe Bryant and his off-the-dribble creativity.

    Recently re-inserted into the Lakers' starting lineup, Young finished with eight points on nine shots. He added four rebounds and a whopping zero assists to his final line. Young also recorded a team-worst minus-20 in 20 minutes of action.

    There really aren't many positive things to say about Young at this point.

    He's already a liability on the defensive end of the floor, and when his questionable shots aren't falling, he becomes a hindrance on the offensive end as well.


    Grade: F

Power Forward: Chris Kaman

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    Chris Kaman made his third straight start of the season against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but he was faced with the harsh reality of guarding Kevin Love, whose red-hot start to the 2013-14 campaign did not subside on Sunday. 

    It was apparent from the jump that Kaman was uncomfortable playing defense on the perimeter, and Love took advantage to the tune of 12 points on four treys over the game's first eight minutes.

    With the Lakers' perimeter defense already a major question mark, the added dimension that Love provided made life that much more miserable for L.A.

    Kaman managed to contribute eight points and five rebounds, but his defensive deficiencies make it nearly impossible to give him a favorable grade. 


    Grade: D

Center: Pau Gasol

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    Entering Sunday night's contest, Pau Gasol had scored 11 points in his last two games combined. He equaled that total in the loss, although shots didn't fall with the regularity he would have preferred. 

    Gasol shot just 5-of-12 on the night, a disappointing outcome given the 26 percent he shot from the floor over the Los Angeles Lakers' three-game road trip. 

    Although he did pull down 11 rebounds and block four shots, Gasol committed a team-high four turnovers and continued to look frustrated on the offensive end, where he's still searching for his niche in Mike D'Antoni's system.


    Grade: C-

Sixth Man: Jordan Farmar

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    With Steve Nash sidelined for the whole second half, you'd think Mike D'Antoni would have turned to Jordan Farmar to take over the reins at point guard. 

    Instead, it was Steve Blake who manned the controls while Jodie Meeks entered at shooting guard. 

    As a result, Farmar was limited to 14 minutes, and it wasn't exactly the most productive run the former UCLA Bruin has gotten this season.

    Totaling four points and three turnovers, Sunday night's performance was one that Farmar will want to quickly erase from his memory.


    Grade: F


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    Shawne Williams, who was a DNP-CD in the Los Angeles Lakers' previous two games, returned to the rotation. Mike D'Antoni grasped for straws trying to provide some semblance of defense on Kevin Love after he torched Chris Kaman and Wes Johnson for 18 first-quarter points. 

    And while his defense didn't quite cut it, Williams was able to stretch the floor and knock down two treys while totaling eight points. 

    The league's highest-scoring bench entering Sunday night's bout, the Lakers' bench mob was just about the only thing that worked offensively for L.A. in the first half. They accounted for 16 of the team's 48 points over the first 24 minutes. 

    However, Xavier Henry, who had a rough three-game road trip, continued to struggle. Henry managed two points on 1-of-8 shooting and 0-of-4 shooting from the free-throw line. While Henry did attack the rim continually, his shots simply wouldn't fall. 

    Jodie Meeks continued his hot start to the season with a steady 16 points in 29 minutes. He was one of only two Lakers who entered the fourth quarter in double figures.

    Facing off against the team that originally selected him No. 4 overall, Wesley Johnson mustered just five points on 2-of-10 shooting.


    Grade: C