Darvin Ham: Lakers Not Focused On Timberwolves Drama Ahead Of Play-In Tournament Game
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the NBA regular season coming to a close, the Los Angeles Lakers know they will now be hosting the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first game of the Play-In Tournament on Tuesday night.

The Lakers had the best record in the Western Conference after the All-Star break to claim the No. 7 spot, which means they just need to beat Minnesota to earn a first-round series against the No. 2 seeded Memphis Grizzlies.

While it won’t be an easy task for the Lakers, they are catching the Timberwolves at the right time considering they are coming off a drama-filled final day of the regular season.

While Minnesota beat the New Orleans Pelicans to earn the No. 7 seed, it did come at a cost. The Timberwolves’ best defender Jaden McDaniel fractured his hand punching a wall in the tunnel after getting into foul trouble in the first quarter. Then, Rudy Gobert and Kyle Anderson got into an argument on the bench in the second quarter with the former punching the latter.

The Timberwolves immediately sent Gobert home and have since announced he will be suspended against the Lakers, which means they will be down two starters.

Lakers head coach Darvin Ham was asked about everything going on with the Timberwolves after practice on Monday, saying his team is not focused on that, via NBA reporter Mark Medina:

“I don’t think it’s a distraction. It’s not Laker business and we’re all focused on Lakers business. It’s an unfortunate situation, but I really don’t have an opinion on it. We’re just focused on trying to be the best version of ourselves and what we got to do. It’s not about who we’re playing, it’s about how we play and putting our best foot forward.”

Ham was then asked if Minnesota missing two starters changes his team’s gameplan, but he again said that they are just focused on themselves:

“It’s all about us. I repeat, it’s not Laker business. It’s an unfortunate situation but we got to prepare for us to be the best version of ourselves and make sure we come out right with the right energy and the right urgency, the right effort and be the most competitive, together team for 48 minutes.”

It makes sense that Ham wants the Lakers to avoid distractions and drama with such a big game in front of them.

On the inside though, they have to at least be a little pleased to be facing a team down two starters, especially the way Gobert and McDaniels have defended the Lakers in the past.

Minnesota still has Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and a number of other quality players though, so the Lakers can’t take them lightly if they want to advance to the postseason.

James stresses importance of Lakers locking back in defensively

The Lakers have hung their hat on the defensive end of the floor since the trade deadline, although they have begun to slip up a bit in recent weeks.

With every game now a must-win, LeBron James stressed the importance of the Lakers locking back in defensively moving forward.

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