Timberwolves dropped by Lakers 112-95
By JON KRAWCZYNSKI
AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Kobe Bryant had 23 points and eight rebounds, and Matt Barnes scored 24 on 7-of-7 shooting to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 112-95 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.
Lamar Odom dominated Team USA teammate Kevin Love with 11 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Lakers (11-2).
Love, the NBA's leading rebounder, had just seven rebounds and was scoreless on 0-for-7 shooting.
Darko Milicic had career highs with 23 points, 16 rebounds and six blocks, and Michael Beasley had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Wolves (4-10).
Barnes signed a two-year, $3.6 million contract in July and has been worth every penny and then some. Coach Phil Jackson calls the second unit "The Renegades," and Barnes led the way with seven rebounds and six assists.
With Bryant making just eight of 27 shots, Barnes' sharpshooting couldn't have come at a better time. It was the best game for Barnes since he scored 25 points, including 7 for 8 on 3s, with eight rebounds in Golden State's victory over Philadelphia in 2006.
Pau Gasol chipped in 16 points and 14 rebounds, and the Lakers held Minnesota to 39.6 percent shooting.
Bryant didn't shoot a high percentage, but he gave the many who paid to see him more than their money's worth in the third quarter. He wowed the crowd with a Jordanesque reverse layup, then caught a lob from Derek Fisher in traffic, laid it in and converted the three-point play for a 72-55 lead.
Bryant grabbed all the highlights, but it was Barnes' shot-making that made the difference. He scored the last 10 points of the third for the Lakers, hitting three 3-pointers and turning one into a four-point play to keep the Wolves from creeping back into it.
The Timberwolves came into the game on a hot streak by their standards. Winners of three of the last five games, the Wolves have gotten impressive performances from Beasley and Love to invigorate a fan base that has been disillusioned by years of losing.
Beasley averaged 32.6 points over the last five games and Love had a historic 31-point, 31-rebound performance against New York a week ago to catch the attention of local fans. It all started with a surprisingly competitive five-point loss to the Lakers in Staples Center on Nov. 9.
Love had 23 points and 24 rebounds in that game, but was despondent as he trudged off the floor on Friday night with teammate Anthony Tolliver's arm around his shoulders.
The Target Center was sold out for the first time all season, with plenty of Laker fans turning out to cheer Bryant and the two-time defending champs.
Pregame introductions included a video that read, "It's happening. The Timberwolves are back."
Not just yet.
The Timberwolves never got closer than eight points in the second half and the Lakers put it away with a 12-0 run that turned the final seven minutes into garbage time.
NOTES: Jackson was asked how Love, who doesn't have a ton of athletic ability, can be so effective on the boards. "He fouls a lot and gets away with it," Jackson deadpanned. ... Beasley topped 25 points for the sixth straight game, the first time a Timberwolves player has done that since Kevin Garnett in 2000. ... Wolves rookie Wes Johnson had a rough nigh with just five points on 2-for-9 shooting.
Updated November 19, 2010