2023 Play-In Game Preview: Reviewing Lakers-Timberwolves Regular Season Matchups
LeBron James Anthony Edwards Lakers Timberwolves Team USA
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are set to host the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first Play-In Game on Tuesday night. The winner of the contest will be locked into the seventh seed and face the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs while the loser will host the winner of the 9-10 game between the New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Lakers and Timberwolves are very familiar with each other with three current Lakers being former members of the Wolves including D’Angelo Russell, who began this season in Minnesota. The teams faced off three times this year with the Timberwolves coming out on top twice.

Minnesota will be without center Rudy Gobert on Tuesday due to suspension however, as well as both Jaden McDaniels and Naz Reid due to injury.

Ahead of the Play-In Game, let’s take a look at what went down in those three meetings.

October 28 @ Minnesota: Timberwolves 111, Lakers 102

This early-season contest is the one to put the least stock in as this Lakers roster is completely different. Of the nine Lakers to log minutes, four of them are no longer on the roster and they were also without Anthony Davis, who sat out with lower back tightness.

As such, Gobert dominated the paint with 22 points and 21 rebounds while Anthony Edwards scored a game-high 29 points in the Timberwolves’ win, which gave the Lakers their fifth straight loss to start the season. LeBron James led the Lakers with 28 points while Russell Westbrook, in his first game off the bench, added 18 points.

Russell, then a member of the Timberwolves, struggled shooting the ball with just 11 points on 4-of-15 from the field, but added seven assists and seven steals as the Lakers turned the ball over 22 times on the night.

March 3 @ Los Angeles: Timberwolves 110, Lakers 102

Some star power was missing as the Lakers were without James and Russell while Minnesota didn’t have Karl-Anthony Towns in this second meeting. Nonetheless, the Timberwolves took control in the second half and held off a late Lakers rally for the win.

Davis was unstoppable offensively with 38 points while Malik Beasley added 15, but the Lakers got little offensive contribution elsewhere. The Lakers shot just 41.4% from the field and 32.3% from deep while also being out-rebounded on the night.

Gobert finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds, Edwards added 19 and Reid was huge with 15 points and eight rebounds off the bench. The Lakers rallied from a 14-point deficit early in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to just three points late before Mike Conley hit a huge 3-pointer to snatch the momentum back late.

March 31 @ Minnesota: Lakers 123, Timberwolves 111

The one meeting with both teams at full strength saw the Lakers dominate the second half to run away with a 12-point win in Minnesota that pushed them ahead of the Timberwolves in the standings. Trailing by 10 at the half, the Lakers outscored the Timberwolves 35-18 in the third quarter and keep that momentum throughout the fourth to capture the Lakers’ fifth win in six games.

Davis fought through a turned ankle in the third quarter to score 17 of his 38 points in the fourth to go along with 17 rebounds. Five other Lakers scored in double-figures including 18 from James and 15 from Austin Reaves. They also dominated the glass out-rebounding Minnesota by 14 on the night.

Conley led Minnesota with 25 points while Towns chipped in 23 and Kyle Anderson added 17 points and three blocks of the Timberwolves’ bench.

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