Ricky Rubio was right to claim he was fouled by Kobe Bryant on the final play. The Los Angeles Lakers almost let another one get away from them with some more horrendous defending, but their star player, along with a dominant performance from the rest of the “stars” – Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and yes, even Pau Gasol, helped them escape with a win and a playoff ticket still in hand.

According to Bryant, when you try to decypher what he has to say, it was a foul. He only knows officials shouldn’t be calling these, not against him.

That’s not a foul. They ain’t calling that s$#%. I don’t think I got him. That’s a tough call to make. I just put my hand in. It’s not like I went out and smacked him across the arm or anything like that. It is what it is. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was called a foul. We would have gone into overtime and won the game.

Cockiness, arrogance, call it whatever you like. The Lakers have won 22 consecutive games against the Minnesota Timberwolves, so it’s natural they feel confident about beating a team they helped ruin their season last year (Bryant injuring Rubio), even with so many problems haunting them throughout the season.

The defense, as mentioned, was terrible. Bryant did score 31 points, helped by Dwight Howard with 25, Pau Gasol with 17 in his first good performance since returning from injury and 16 more from Steve Nash. But they allowed one of the worst teams in the NBA to force 21 turnovers off of them and dominate the rebounding with 17 on the offensive glass, mostly through Nikola Pekovic with 7 over the head of Dwight Howard.

Sometimes, it’s not fair because we give 100 percent and sometimes we can’t control things. But we have to improve things that we can control.

One of the things the Lakers have to fix, or hope gets fixed, is Howard’s shooting from the line. He went 7-17, with the Timberwolves enjoying a late surge and comeback from 17 points behind thanks to the highly criticized tactic. D’Antoni could frown, but he also acknowledged that without Howard starting to make more from the line, the Lakers won’t be going very far. They’re barely making the playoffs as is, with the Jazz and Mavs hot on their tails.

Image: Source