The Los Angeles Lakers suffered a tough loss last night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but the team couldn’t focus too long as they had to turn right around and head to Minnesota to face the Timberwolves.
Both teams were way down in the standings heading into the matchup, making it important for those focused on the Lakers tanking. A loss to the Timberwolves would be huge for the Lakers in that regard, but the players continued to play hard every night. Jordan Clarkson was coming off a career night against the Thunder.
The Timberwolves were without many of their regulars including Ricky Rubio and Kevin Garnett, but their two prized rookies, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine were still available to lead the way.
Zach LaVine got the scoring started for the Timberwolves with a three-pointer. The Lakers would come back with a Jordan Clarkson dunk and Ryan Kelly jumper to go ahead 4-3 early in the quarter. The teams began trading baskets and a putback from Tarik Black kept the Lakers in front 8-7. Gorgui Dieng hit a jumper, but Black was able to get an easy layup to keep the Lakers in front. Black got another layup off an offensive rebound, but Chase Budinger got a layup on the other end as the Timberwolves remained within one point. The Lakers went on an 8-0 run getting contributions from Ed Davis and Wayne Ellington as they would end the quarter with a 24-15 lead over the Timberwolves.
Andrew Wiggins got a quick layup to start the second for the Timberwolves. Robert Sacre came in and hit consecutive jumpers as the Lakers maintained their seven-point lead. The Lakers played very sloppy basketball early in the quarter with bad passes and turnovers hurting them. The Timberwolves used the free throw line to cut the lead down to three before a nice mid-range jumper from Clarkson put the Lakers back ahead by five. Wiggins threw down a vicious dunk on Sacre and then both teams traded three pointers. Ellington and Jabari Brown were matched by Budinger and Sean Kilpatrick as the Lakers remained ahead by three. The threes continued to rain down as a corner three from Kelly gave the Lakers a six-point cushion. LaVine made a jumper, but Lin hit Davis for a dunk as the second quarter wound down. A steal and layup from Lin put the Lakers up nine, but a LaVine three cut the lead to six at the end of the half, 49-43.
The Lakers got off to a strong start in the second half as a Lin three followed by a Clarkson steal and another layup from Lin put the Lakers ahead by double-digits. Wiggins drove straight through the Lakers defense for an easy dunk, but baskets from Clarkson and Lin gave the Lakers a 13 point lead. The Wolves chipped into the lead thanks to LaVine getting to the free throw line. Kelly had a beautiful reverse layup but a Wiggins three cut the lead back down to seven. The teams traded baskets with Lin leading the way for the Lakers and Wiggins keeping the Timberwolves within striking distance. A three from Brown put the Lakers back ahead by 10 as the quarter wound down, but Budinger responded with one of his own. A thunderous dunk from Budinger capped off the third as the Lakers remained ahead by seven, 73-66.
The teams traded baskets at the outset of the fourth as Davis and Ellington kept the Lakers comfortably ahead by nine early in the fourth. Minnesota would fight back with a 6-0 run to cut the Lakers lead to only three. Clarkson would throw a beautiful pass to Black to give the Lakers a slight cushion, but Adreian Payne responded with a jumper to keep the Timberwolves within three. Another jumper from Payne would bring Minnesota within a point and a layup from Dieng gave the Timberwolves their first lead since the first quarter. Free throws from Clarkson would put the Lakers back ahead and a short jumper from Kelly gave the Lakers a three-point lead. Both teams struggled to score as the Lakers held on to a two-point lead with three minutes remaining. Wiggins hit a pair of free throws to tie the game, but Jabari Brown would knock down a clutch three and Clarkson would follow with a mid-range jumper to give the Lakers a five-point lead. LaVine hit a pair of free throws to make it a one possession game with under a minute left. The Lakers missed a shot and got an offensive rebound, but Black was stripped. The Timberwolves came down and Budinger hit a corner three to tie the game at 90 with six seconds left. Kelly got a wide open look but came up short and the game would go to OT.
A pair of free throws from Clarkson put the Lakers on the board to start overtime. Wiggins tied the game with free throws of his own, and Clarkson was stripped by Lorenzo Brown for an easy dunk to put Minnesota up by two. Jabari would hit Black for a nice dunk as the Lakers regained a one-point lead midway through OT. Wiggins took Ellington to the block for an easy three-point play to put Minnesota back ahead by two. The Lakers were able to force a shot clock violation and Clarkson would draw a foul on the other end. He would hit both free throws to tie the game with a minute left. The Timberwolves would turn the ball over again and Clarkson would blow by LaVine to give the Lakers a two-point lead with 33 seconds left. Dieng would hit a mid-range jumper to tie the game. Ellington would have his shot blocked, but Clarkson was fouled on an offensive rebound with .3 seconds left. He would make both free throws and Wiggins was unable to get a shot up as the Lakers held on for a 101-99.
Steve Nash Retirement Press Conference (Part Two)