HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – There’s always some intrigue involved when the master, the Zen Master in this case, faces off against one of his pupils.
We’re still not sure if that’s the sort of relationship Lakers coach Phil Jackson enjoys with Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis. But for the purposes of our weekend schedule, we’re going to go with it.
The Lakers are always on our radar — ALWAYS!
And it has nothing to do with us being frontrunners or jumping on the bandwagon of a two-time defending champion. It’s more about loving the way they play and what they bring out of the competition.
If you remember, it was the Lakers that launched this current basketball renaissance for our friends in Minnesota. Since the Lakers’ 99-94 defeat of the Timberwolves Nov. 9 at Staples Center Rambis has watched his team win three of five games and turn a corner, of sorts, in this young season.
Everything comes full circle tonight, with a return match at the Target Center. And that’s just one of several games on the must-watch list known around here as HT’s League Pass Spotlight: Weekend Watching (and once again, the free preview is over but you can click here to make sure you don’t miss a second of the action):
LA LAKERS at MINNESOTA 8 p.m. ET
Why we’re watching: Who doesn’t want to watch the hottest young frontcourt tandem in the league (Michael Beasley and Kevin Love) against the best frontcourt technician on the planet (Pau Gasol) and one of the most versatile frontcourt performers in the game (Lamar Odom). Beasley and Love aren’t just playing well right now, they’re playing as well or better than anyone other pair of forwards in the league. We didn’t even mention Kobe Bryant yet, which should tell you how much fun this game could be. The Timberwolves are feeling pretty good about themselves right now. That’s usually a perfect time to catch an up and coming squad against behemoth like the Lakers, who will surely enjoy the challenge.
MIAMI at MEMPHIS 8 p.m. ET
Why we’re watching: We got a little excited after Chris Bosh torched the Suns for a season-high 35 points the other night and then heard about it from all sides for a) celebrating such a performance when it was clear the Suns could not defend him and b) trying to praise him after blasting him for three weeks for not showing up. Well, we’re going to give it another shot against the Hang Time Grizzlies, a team with a little more in the paint than the Suns. If Bosh can go to work against the likes of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, then maybe we can get an accurate read on where he is right now in his quest to regain his pre-Miami form.
NEW JERSEY at DENVER 9 p.m. ET
Why we’re watching: We’re calling this one the Carmelo (Anthony) Bowl. The Nets have made it pretty clear that they wanted the Nuggets’ All-Star and best player to wear their uniform. And the Nuggets have made it equally clear that they won’t to part ways with Anthony, no matter how inevitable the split seems to the rest of us. These teams only match up twice a year and this is the Nets’ only trip to Denver. We imagine their will be some die-hard Nuggets fans in the crowd with a few choice words for the Nets and their traveling party, so we’re hoping they keep it PG-13 with all the impressionable ears that are sure to be in the Pepsi Center.
GOLDEN STATE at LA LAKERS 9:30 p.m. ET
Why we’re watching: When you bookend a LPS:WW with the Lakers and Timberwolves and then the Warriors and Lakers, you can’t really go wrong with whatever is between the bread of that sandwich. While Gasol and Odom have to fend off challengers to their crown on Friday night in Minnesota, Bryant and Derek Fisher have to deal with a similar threat in Monta Ellis and Steph Curry. Fine, we’re stretching it a little bit there. But what better way to end a weekend of basketball than watching the Warriors take another shot at the Lakers — they tried it on Halloween in a battle of unbeatens and got smacked around 107-83. We’re expecting a much tighter game this time around.