MINNEAPOLIS – The Lakers will play without Metta World Peace Wednesday night – and for the rest of the season. The team announced earlier that day that the small forward will miss at least six weeks in order to undergo surgery on a torn meniscus in his left knee, leaving the Lakers’ roster again in flux.
In the short term, the injury will help the Timberwolves, who will not face quite as massive a mismatch at shooting guard, where they’ve been playing the undersized Luke Ridnour for much of the season. The Lakers will be forced to go small, starting both Jodie Meeks and Kobe Bryant – two shooting guards – and Ridnour will likely guard the shorter (and less talented) Meeks.
“That helps quite a bit size-wise, and we keep our same rotation,” Rick Adelman said before the game. “If that’s how it’s going to go, it’s going to help us in that way.”
D’Antoni has stressed throughout the day that not one player will assume World Peace’s duties, and that the Lakers will have to compensate by committee. He mentioned as well that both Dwight Howard and Bryant will have to step up on defense.
Kevin Love (non-)update: It’s been two weeks since the Timberwolves power forward traveled to New York to have his hand checked and was told it would be reevaluated in 2-3 weeks. Love was not available pregame to give an update on when he might get a CT scan and send it to New York in order to be cleared, and Adelman said he does not know when that will take place. Love had indicated on Sunday that it would be at some point later this week.
The coach did discuss the process by which he will ease Love back in if and when he’s cleared. The team won’t have many practice days in the next week, and Adelman said he’s comfortable with Love doing some one-on-one or two-on-two work rather than practicing once he’s been cleared. That said, there won’t be time even for that until April 2 or 4.
“I’d like to see (him play), yeah,” Adelman said. “You would like to see him play if he can. You’d like to see our guys get on the court together. You know, we haven’t seen them very much. That helps us as far as moving forward, too, but we’ll just have to wait and see. If not, we’ll play the people we have right now and try to finish on a positive note.”
A friendly reminder: The Timberwolves currently have a 21-game losing streak against the Lakers. Minnesota hasn’t won a game in the series since March 6, 2007, more than six years ago. (That’s several months before Kevin Love began his college career.) It’s the longest head-to-head losing streak of any team in the NBA.