March 25, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) reacts against the Golden State Warriors during the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Lakers 109-103. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Los Angeles Lakers (36-35) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (25-44)

The Lakers have a 3-game losing streak heading into tonight’s game at the Target Center. The Lakers currently hold the 8th (and final) playoff spot in the Western Conference Playoffs. That lead is down to a single game over both surging Dallas (7-3 over their last 10 games) and slumping Utah (3-7 in their last 10 games). It’s also been made a bit tenuous as Los Angeles just lost Metta World Peace to a torn meniscus. After initial thoughts he would miss 1-2 weeks, the word came down that he was out 6-10 and done for the season.

The injury woes of the Lakers… blah blah blah. As a Wolves fan, I’ll listen if Kobe, Pau, Nash and Meeks were all out for extended time, but whatever.

Lakers probable starting lineup:

PG Steve Nash

SG Jodie Meeks

SF Kobe Bryant

PF Pau Gasol

C Dwight Howard

Mike D’Antoni said Meeks would be the starting shooting guard while Kobe would slide to small forward against the Wolves tonight. Not that playing Devin Ebanks in MWP’s spot would be just what the Wolves’ ordered for this evening, but having Meeks and his more than capable shooting in the starting lineup should still work out fine for the Lakers, even if it could possibly work out better for the Ridnour-starting Wolves.

After missing two games (and trying to gut it out against Indiana the game before that), Kobe returned against Washington Friday (a Lakers loss) and played in Monday’s loss to Golden State. He put up 45 shots in those two games, scoring 57, so he’s ok.

Wolves probable starting lineup:

PG Ricky Rubio

SG Luke Ridnour

SF Andrei Kirilenko

PF Derrick Williams

C Nikola Pekovic

Such an outlier was the Wolves performance in Detroit last night that I won’t even mention the randomness of the accuracy the Wolves displayed from downtown. Only to say this: well played, Luke Ridnour and JJ Barea.

There are so many great matchups around the league with Pek Former Laker Andrew Bynum comes to mind, DeMarcus Cousins, too. But After Dwight played against Pek a few years ago, he was asked if Howard was one of the strongest players in the league and he reportedly shrugged, squinted his face, shook his head and replied: ‘show muscles’. Pek is unimpressed by Howard, but he’ll still have to contend with the maligned ten year-old Laker big man this evening.

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Tags: Los Angeles Lakers Minnesota Timberwolves Pregame Preview

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