LOS ANGELES - Timberwolves guard Wes Johnson made a discovery here so late in his rookie season during Friday's 108-96 loss to the Lakers:
He likes the shiny stage that is Staples Center.
"Love it," he said.
Johnson scored a career-high 29 points -- five more than he scored in a December game against New Orleans -- and outdueled the great Kobe Bryant, who played on a swollen ankle but still did just enough in the fourth quarter to guarantee the Lakers their 15th consecutive victory over the Wolves.
Johnson had 17 by halftime, or only one fewer than Bryant scored all night.
Bryant and Johnson share the same agent, a relationship that Johnson hopes will lead to more tutoring this summer after the two worked out a couple of times together last summer.
On Friday, they also shared an ongoing conversation that Bryant seemed to instigate.
"At one point in the game, he hit a couple of threes and he looked up at how many points I had and said, 'You want me to catch you?' " Johnson said. "I was like, 'Nah, you can stay quiet.' "
Johnson scored 20 points and had eight rebounds matched up against Bryant in a March 1 game at Target Center.
"He was one of my favorite players growing up, watching him," Johnson said. "So I'm trying to bring out both the best in him and me."
Kevin Love's double-double streak ended at 53 games a week ago, but by recording 15 rebounds Friday, the Wolves forward extended his streak of consecutive double-digit rebound games to 56 in a row.
That's the longest in the NBA since at least 1986-87. Dennis Rodman grabbed double-digit rebounds in 52 consecutive games during the 1992-93 season.
Beasley on Bynum
Saturday came and went without the NBA suspending Lakers center Andrew Bynum for his flagrant foul type-2 that flattened Michael Beasley and knocked him out of the game because of a bruised left hip midway through Friday's fourth quarter.
Beasley vowed after the game that he will play Sunday against Sacramento at home.
"It was just a hard foul, playoff foul," Beasley said. "They're getting ready for the playoffs. That's the kind of basketball you got to get used to playing."
Asked if he thought Bynum intended to injure him, he said: "If it was, it was. If it wasn't, good for him. I don't really care ... I'm not thinking about Andrew Bynum."
He said it
Beasley, when asked what got into Johnson with those 29 points Friday: "I mean, he's a scorer. That's what he do. He's capable of doing it every night. Give him the ball, watch him go."