Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves (20-34) @ Los Angeles Lakers (28-30)

If rooting for the Lakers is like rooting for cancer, rooting for the Timberwolves is like rooting for the cure.

Such statements make great prompts for arguments, but like the Yankees, the Lakers seem to always get what they want — whether they need it or not, they believe they’re entitled to it and more often than not, they get it. When the time comes to assemble a new cast of so many senior citizens to chase rings in southern California, that’s part of what makes it so enjoyable to watch them fall on their collective faces — they get what they deserve.

Lakers probable starting lineup:

PG Steve Nash

SG Kobe Bryant

SF Metta World Peace

PF Earl Clark

C Dwight Howard

Lakers need more defensive star power? Enter Artest. Marquee big man on the market? Howard is a Laker this year. The Pau Gasol trade drew the ire of Greg Popovich, but Marc turned out fine for Memphis, eventually. Nash arriving via free agency this year took more than a little of the league-wide goodwill he built up over the last few years as a suffering Sun. The Mike D’Antoni experience in Los Angeles has been a tale of mismatched personnel. As intrigued as the Los Angeles press (or ESPN) has been with Kobe’s transformation from the great scorer to the great playmaker, he can’t make Nash into a better defender or Gasol into Ryan Anderson.

For all the Kobe vitriol in my veins, guy’s been doing everything (but defending) this year. He’s at 28 points, 7.6 assists, 7 rebounds on 54% from the field (39% from 3) in 37 minutes over the last 5 games. (He also has 4.6 turnovers, .4 steals and .2 blocks over the same span.)

Wolves probable starting lineup:

PG Ricky Rubio

SG Luke Ridnour

SF Mickael Gelabale

PF Derrick Williams

C Nikola Pekovic

Andrei Kirilenko has a calf strain. The curse continues — or — the career-long trend continues, depending on your perspective. AK will miss some time and definitely will not be guarding Kobe. Historically, the Wolves matchup options have led to Ridnour-Artest sightings, but putting Rubio on Kobe could be an option after Gelabale and Ridnour prove their worth.

Pek once was asked if Dwight was one of the stronger guys in the league and he shook his head and replied: show muscles. Pek v. Howard could be a bright spot. So could D-Will v. Clark, if Williams shows half the skill and effort he did against Phoenix. How Rubio responds to his first 4th quarter benching under Adelman will determine the amount of fight the Wolves bring to this game. If they struggle early, this could get ugly in a hurry.

Tags: Los Angeles Lakers Minnesota Timberwolves Pregame Preview

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