Lakers vs. Wolves (The Late Show Edition)

Nick "Swaggy P" Young and Kendall Marshall will be in Minneapolis tonight to take on the Wolves.

Nick “Swaggy P” Young and Kendall Marshall will be in Minneapolis tonight to take on the Wolves.

Look again, that IS NOT Steve Blake on the right. That’s the red hot Kendall Marshall, who’ll be manning the point for Los Angeles tonight in Minneapolis.

That’s right – the Lakers are in Minneapolis to play the Timberwolves tonight. Tip is at 7 P.M. CST.  Most of you can see the game on FSN. If you’re not local, you can see it on League Pass. If you prefer to listen, tune in to WCCO 830.

A quick rundown of things to look for is below the fold.

Lakers  vs. Wolves Starting Lineups

The starting lineups should look something like this.

Lakers

Timberwolves

PG

Marshall

10.5

Rubio

8.4

SG

Meeks

14.7

Martin

19.1

SF

Johnson

8.2

Brewer

11.1

PF

Kelly

6.6

Love

25.5

C

Gasol TBD

17.0

Pekovic Turiaf

18.0 3.6

Tonight’s starting lineups are likely to look something like this. Neither team will have its marquee center. LA’s Pau Gasol will be out with an injury. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni hasn’t chosen a replacement yet, saying it could be either Chris KamanJordan Hill or Robert Sacre.

The Wolves, now eight days into the “7-10 days until Nikola Pekovic can resume basketball activities,” don’t expect to have the big guy’s services tonight, but hopefully will real soon. Ronny Turiaf is expected to continue to start in Pekovic’s place.

Given the depleted state of the Lakers front court – their other starters there are expected to include Wolves’ castoff Wes Johnson at SF and rookie Ryan Kelly at the PF – expect K-Love to put up giant numb#rs again tonight.

Kendall Marshall

Also – and it feels almost trite writing this at this point – closely watch the duel between the starting point guards. Lakers guard Kendall Marshall has been absolutely torching teams since being picked up off the scrap heap by LA in December, with his breakout game coming January 3rd in a 110-99 win against Utah, in which Marshall scored 20 points and handed out 15 assists. Marshall averaged 11.5 assists in the month of January, and is averaging 9.6 assists on the season.

Marshall isn’t yet listed among the League’s assist leaders on NBA.com, but if he were (and if Chris Paul also were), he’d be second in the League to Paul, and ahead of current leaders Steph Curry (9.0), Ty Lawson (8.8), John Wall (8.5), and Ricky Rubio (8.2). Marshall has a nose for assisting, and given the (low) quality of the players he’s passing the ball to, that’s nothing to sneeze at. It will be interesting to see how Ricky Rubio goes about defending Marshall.

Lakers’ Newfound Backcourt Health?

Marshall might not be alone at the point tonight for LAL. According to Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni, it is possible that the Lakers will get back Steve Nash, Jordan Farmar, and  Steve Blake in time for Tuesday evening’s game. All of those guys were once ahead of Marshall on the Lakers’ depth chart this season.

The most interesting of the group, of course, is former the former MVP Nash. With the Lakers having nothing to play for at this point except ping-pong balls, it’s hard to imagine that Nash won’t be handled with utmost delicacy by D’Antoni & co. Still, Nash can be a joy to watch, and his return is something to look forward to for Wolves fans seeking to be entertained by a Lakers team that will be without its other stars, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.

Pau Gasol’s Last Stand in LaLa?

Speaking of Gasol, his days in LA once again appear to be numbered. There are new trade rumors involving Gasol, which would have the Lakers big man going to Phoenix in exchange for Emeka Okafor’s rotting corpse expiring kahntract and, possibly, a first-round pick.

The timing and fit (and the ever-important salary cap implications) make this rumor feel more credible than your father’s Pau Gasol Trade Rumors, which have been so pervasive the last few seasons. With Pau out for tonight’s game with a strained right groin, a move could happen soon. However, even if the Lakers plan to move Gasol, a deal could be delayed until closer to the February 20th League-wide trade deadline.

Nick Young 

There’s no real news to report about Nick Young, but he’ll get a mention in any Punch-Drunk Wolves game preview: Young is one of the League’s few remaining unrepentant gunners in a League otherwise obsessed with austere efficiency. And that’s a curiosity worth watching.

That’s all for now. Here’s some Swag to pregame to.

Enjoy the tilt.

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3 Comments

Filed under Previews, Timberwolves

3 responses to “Lakers vs. Wolves (The Late Show Edition)

  1. Jeremy

    I’m actually pretty excited for this game. I don’t care if they’re tanking, beating the Lakers would still feel good. The funniest part of it is that even though I have always despised the Lakers, I actually kinda like them now. Nick Young is amazing because he only has two gears – Beast Mode and train wreck, and I enjoy watching them both. Who would have ever thought Wes could be useful in a basketball game? Ryan Kelly is Good? Kendall Marshall – WTF? The Lakers are a complete wad of wackadoodle, and that’s what makes them fun right now.

    Now the fun part. Let’s pretend we lose tonight. Then we lose @OKC, @NO, and then to Portland and Houston at home. With Pek out, that might be more likely than not. If we nosedive here, the front office HAS to know the playoffs are impossible. Do you think they would tank the rest of the season to keep our first round pick this summer, or is Flip & Co. dumb enough to double down play competitively enough to miss the playoffs and lose our pick?

    Also, if Phoenix does trade for Pau, are they suddenly a dark horse to make the WCF? I doubt they could edge out OKC in a series, but if they get Pau and then Bledsoe comes back, I wouldn’t rule them out against any of the other West contenders. How amazing would it be if one of the consensus pre-season worst rosters clowned the entire league and made the conference finals? I am rooting very, very hard for this to happen.

    • I’m excited for this one too. Beating the Lakers is extremely satisfying (and has been extremely rare for the Wolves in recent history), and tonight we have a good chance of winning. Like you, I don’t care one bit that we’d be defeating their JV squad (though I can’t say it wouldn’t be more satisfying to beat a JV squad with Kobe Bryant actively playing on it), because I’m intrigued by all the oddities–the Nick Youngs, the Kendall Marshalls, and yes, the Wes Johnsons. (!) It’s a mishmash of weirdness all congealing around a Mike D’Antoni-led core, and that’s interesting, if not always pretty, basketball.

      In response to your second bit, where you wrote:

      “Now the fun part. Let’s pretend we lose tonight. Then we lose @OKC, @NO, and then to Portland and Houston at home. With Pek out, that might be more likely than not. If we nosedive here, the front office HAS to know the playoffs are impossible. Do you think they would tank the rest of the season to keep our first round pick this summer, or is Flip & Co. dumb enough to double down play competitively enough to miss the playoffs and lose our pick?”

      I don’t know what they’ll do, but it will be *very* interesting to keep tabs on. I could honestly see them going either way, but I have no idea which route they’d settle on. But it will likely make a significant difference in the team’s outlook, so I hope they choose wisely.

      Is Phoenix suddenly a dark horse to make the WCF if they trade for Pau?
      Andy and I were debating this over email recently. I would argue that they are. I don’t know if I’d put money on it, but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me. And if they did, it’d be awesome. Phoenix is my single favorite story in the NBA this year, and I’d like to see it go as far as it possibly can. What they’re doing now, without Bledsoe or Gasol, is truly remarkable.

    • Brett A

      Ugh. While I’m not ready to think about tanking yet….I will anyway. The real problem is just how bad we’d have to be in order to keep it (top 10, right? – if that’s incorrect, carry on, nothing to see here).

      There are 7 East non-playoff teams that will be hard to out-suck, and then the Lakers, Kings and Jazz who will be impossible to out-suck. So that leaves us – GULP – rooting for the Pistons and Knicks (?) or to go from the 11-14 slots to winning the lotteaahahahahhahahah. Oh man, sorry, I couldn’t finish that joke.