for this game

Lakers down T-Wolves with strong defensive effort

Mar 2, 2011 - 7:07 AM Minneapolis, MN (Sports Network) - Kobe Bryant scored 24 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers used a strong defensive second half to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves, 90-79, at Target Center.

The victory is the Lakers' 14th in a row over the Timberwolves, who haven't won in this series in nearly four years.

Pau Gasol finished with 17 rebounds and 12 points for the Lakers, who limited Minnesota to 34 points in the final two quarters. Los Angeles also dominated on the boards, holding a 53-39 rebounding advantage and a 28-7 margin in second-chance points.

Kevin Love extended his double-double streak to 47 games, with 13 points and 11 boards, but shot just 2-for-10. Wesley Johnson netted 20 points to pace the Timberwolves, who have lost eight of nine.

"I was out there just having fun," Johnson said. "I know we came up short, but [we tried to] slow them down as much as possible. But their length and their size really got to us, especially on the second-chance points."

Minnesota was looking to end its four-game homestand with a second straight win. It was coming off Sunday's defeat of Golden State, and was in position to contend for the victory after the first half Tuesday.

The Timberwolves got 12 points from Johnson and limited the Lakers to 30 percent shooting over the first two quarters, and carried a 45-40 edge into the break.

However, the Lakers wiped out their deficit by opening the third with a 9-2 run. The entire quarter was close, featuring five ties, three lead changes and a maximum margin of six.

Johnson connected on a jumper with 2:11 to play to break a tie, but the Lakers scored seven of the final eight points, and held a 65-61 edge moving to the fourth.

Los Angeles quickly gained some breathing room in the final quarter. Shannon Brown connected on a three-pointer and a layup before Lamar Odom drilled a jumper, which gave the Lakers a 74-63 advantage with 9:22 remaining.

The Timberwolves never recovered from that burst, and weren't able to put together runs of their own down the stretch. Minnesota shot 33 percent in the second half.

"Games like this, you want to control the tempo, play defense, let the defense win the game for you," Odom said.

Game Notes

Los Angeles made 25-of-27 free throws, compared to 13-of-16 for Minnesota...The Timberwolves announced Tuesday they have reached a contractual buyout agreement with center Eddy Curry, who they acquired in the Carmelo Anthony trade last week. They placed Curry on waivers after reaching the agreement.