LOS ANGELES -- The last time the Minnesota Timberwolves went to Los Angeles to play the Lakers, they set a franchise record by scoring 47 first-quarter points in a runaway victory that also offered Ricky Rubio's second career triple-double.
The Wolves didn't come close to duplicating either Friday in a 104-91 loss on a night when the Lakers played without superstar Kobe Bryant and a real point guard while Rubio played on despite an apparent case of food poisoning.
With Bryant and former two-time league MVP Steve Nash out injured, Lakers veteran Pau Gasol carried on, delivering a near triple-double -- 21 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists -- that included a crucial three-point shot and important putback basket in the final five minutes when the Lakers kept the Wolves away by turning a one-point lead into a 100-91 advantage with 1:59 left.
Gasol put the cherry on top of the victory by sinking an 18-footer for a 104-91 lead.
By losing two nights after beating league-leading Portland at home, the Wolves (12-13) let slip another opportunity to move back over .500.
Rubio missed the team's morning shootaround, too ill to attend. But he arrived on the Wolves' first bus Friday evening, got some shots up and then returned 45 minutes before opening tip and sat in front of his locker, where two pieces of dry toast awaited him.
He started the game anyway and played more than 30 minutes. That after Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni suggested the Wolves play neither Rubio nor backup J.J. Barea just to be sporting because Los Angeles played on without three point guards.
The Lakers started the game missing former two-time league MVP Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar -- all out injured -- so they started shooting guard Xavier Henry at the position against Rubio instead.
They also were missing Bryant, who on Thursday discovered he will be out for the next six weeks because of a fractured bone in his knee just six games after he returned from that season-starting torn Achilles injury that ended his season last spring.
Henry scored 21 points for the Lakers while Nick Young provided 25 points off the bench. Wolves star Kevin Love reached another double-double with 25 points and 13 rebounds, but he scored only five points after halftime.
The Lakers' misfortunes concerned Wolves coach Rick Adelman before the game because it left them with only big options -- Henry, 6-7 swingman Young and newly signed 6-4 Kendall Marshall, the only real point guard of the bench -- against his team.
Uncertain how much Rubio would play, Adelman knew he would be left with Barea and A.J. Price as his best options, unless he played 6-6 shooting guard Alexey Shved there.
"They're big and that puts us somewhat at a disadvantage," Adelman said before the game. "But that's the way it is and we've got to go out and play our game."
They didn't find that game for well more than a quarter.
Until then, Henry scored 11 first-quarter points matched up mostly against Rubio and the point guard-less Lakers recorded 13 assists on their first 16 field goals made and committed just three turnovers.
The Lakers led 15-10, 23-14 and 30-19 early and led 35-26 after the first quarter. Those 26 Wolves' points were only 21 fewer than they scored in the first quarter of that November game at Staples Center.
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