Wolves not long or strong enough in loss to Lakers

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 2, 2011 - 7:03 AM

Even with Anthony Randolph, the Wolves came up short, getting outrebounded and outscored by the Lakers.

Wolves center Nikola Pekovic, left, blocked a shot by Shannon Brown in the second quarter Tuesday. It was a frustrating night for Minnesota big men as Pekovic and Darko Milicic combined for only four points and six rebounds.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

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When the Timberwolves acquired Anthony Randolph from New York last week, they did so because David Kahn deemed they needed at least another lengthy athlete to someday compete in the Western Conference against such players as Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol.

Tuesday's 90-79 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers at Target Center raises this question:

Are there any more where Randolph came from?

Randolph played nearly 14 minutes -- his most since arriving in town last Wednesday -- but the Wolves once again were no match for the Lakers' long arms, big bodies and lively reserves.

"Their length is a matchup problem for virtually every team in the league," Wolves coach Kurt Rambis said.

On Tuesday, Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom once again proved troublesome, and that's even without mentioning Kobe Bryant and his game-high 24 points.

The Lakers had 13 of their 18 offensive rebounds by halftime in a game that wasn't decided until Lakers reserves went on a 16-3 run that ended the third quarter and began the fourth against a mostly makeshift Wolves lineup of Randolph, Jonny Flynn, Wayne Ellington, Lazar Hayward and Anthony Tolliver.

"We did what it took," Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said.

Randolph gave a comparatively large Target Center audience a taste of what he maybe can offer with a hanging alley-oop slam dunk from Luke Ridnour. But it's still crystal clear that the Wolves need more, especially after starting center Darko Milicic (four points, five rebounds in 25-plus minutes) offered so little resistance against the big Lakers frontline.

"He's got the length, but he doesn't have the size," Rambis said, referring to Randolph's skinny 6-10 body.

So Rambis would take another player or two with Randolph's reach and hops, but with another 60 pounds or so?

"You really want my wish list?" Rambis asked. "I have one."

Yes, Coach. What's on it?

"If you watched the game, I think it's fairly evident," Rambis said.

OK, so everybody knows what to get you next Christmas then?

"You can make it happen earlier," Rambis said as he walked out of his postgame news conference. "You don't have to wait that long."

Rambis likely will take at any time a big, strong, physical inside player, a creative point guard and perhaps a legitimate scoring two guard, although on Tuesday rookie Wes Johnson delivered a third consecutive encouraging performance, even if he might not be your classic scoring guard.

Johnson faced Bryant most of the night and limited him to four first-half points before Bryant found his game face and his jump shot in the second half. Johnson scored 20 points himself, his third consecutive game with 15 or more points.

"I was just out there having fun, tried to slow him down as much as possible," Johnson said. "I know we came up short, but ..."

But at least Johnson had an ongoing conversation with the game's most accomplished player all night.

"He was just telling the refs to call fouls," Johnson said. "He kept looking down at my shoes -- I've got the first [Adidas] shoes he ever wore -- and he was saying I should be wearing his new ones. My main objective was to get him frustrated so I can laugh at him later.

"It worked, for a little bit."

  • L. A. LAKERS 90, WOLVES 79

    Up next: 6:30 tonight at Detroit • The Palace of Auburn Hills • TV: FSN (1130-AM)

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