The Los Angeles Lakers looked to make it two wins in a row against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday night on the road. D’Angelo Russell and company were hoping to get the best of Karl-Anthony Towns and company before heading back home to the Staples Center for Saturday’s showdown with the Los Angeles Clippers.
In their last meeting, the Lakers fed off the energy of the crowd that had witnessed the unveiling of Shaquille O’Neal’s statue outside of the Staples Center. With O’Neal and quite a few other former Lakers in attendance, Luke Walton’s squad was able to force overtime and get the win over Tom Thibodeau’s Timberwolves.
On Thursday, it was a battle between two of the most talented young teams in the league and here’s how it all went down.
Lakers won the tip. Julius Randle came up short on a three-point attempt. Andrew Wiggins got the Timberwolves on the board with two free throws. Ivica Zubac countered with a jumper on the other end which was followed up by a three from Brandon Rush.
D’Angelo Russell scratched for the first time on Thursday with a three. Karl-Anthony Towns then got his first points from the charity stripe after being fouled by Zubac. Rush hit another three to give Minnesota a five-point lead, 10-5.
Zubac suffered an apparent ankle injury and had to be taken to the locker room. Tarik Black checked into the game for the injured Zubac. Minnesota then got out to an 11-point lead with some more help from Towns and a floater from Ricky Rubio. Towns hit a jumper to increase the lead to 13.
Randle converted on a layup off a slick pass from Jordan Clarkson. Corey Brewer cut into the lead on a fastbreak layup. Black trimmed the deficit to seven off another fast break. Rubio ended the run by the Lakers with a jumper near the free-throw line. Black crashed the glass and put it right back up for another bucket. Gorgui Deng got his first points of the night with an easy basket in the paint.
Clarkson got another assist off a dish to Black. Lead cut to six for Minnesota. Towns manhandled his way to the bucket to score once again. Randle caught a Russell airball which he put back up with ease. Brewer converted on another layup with style. Four-point lead for the Timberwolves.
After a timeout, Rubio connected on an uncontested three. Black continued to impose his will in the paint finishing at the rim off a Russell assist. Rubio rebutted with another three. Clarkson followed up with a three of his own. Randle bulldozed his way to the basket drawing the foul and getting the bucket. Randle hit the free throw cutting Minnesota’s lead to two. Tyler Ennis got on the board with a layup off a turnover to tie the game at 30.
Rubio put the Timberwolves back ahead with yet another three. Russell stole the ball and drew the foul. D’Angelo hit both free throws. One-point game. Omri Casspi scored his first bucket of the game to give Minnesota the three-point edge. Ennis tied the game again, this time with a shot from deep. Wiggins hit a tough shot over Larry Nance Jr. Black follows Ennis’ missed layup with a thunderous jam. First quarter comes to an end with the scored tied at 37.
Nance got the second quarter underway with a contested jumper. Two-point lead for the Lakers. Towns scored on a beautiful pass from Tyus Jones. Towns was fouled on the play and missed the free throw that followed. Clarkson hit his second three of the night. Towns banked a shot off the glass. Black countered with two points in the paint. Shabazz Mohammed Got on the board with an easy bucket. A goaltending call on Clarkson gives Jones two points and a one-point lead. Ennis sliced his way to the hole to take the lead, but Towns got up and threw one down on the other end.
Clarkson gave the Lakers the edge ball faking his way to the basket for two. Ennis continued to be aggressive driving to the hoop. Drew the foul and hit two free throws. Towns took it the distance and finished with a smooth layup. Rookie Kris Dunn stole the ball from Randle.
Ennis hit another three to give the Lakers a four-point lead. Towns cut the lead to one with a three in the corner. Timberwolves capitalized on a bad pass from Clarkson with a Dunn three on the other end. Randle then hit an uncharacteristic three-pointer giving the Lakers the lead once again. Rubio couldn’t be stopped from beyond the arc as he hit another one from distance. The Spaniard followed up that three with another jumper giving the Timberwolves a five-point lead.
A layup from Brewer ended the drought for the Lakers. Towns with another jam. Wiggins drew the foul and connected on both free throws. Brewer sliced his way to the rim yet again. Rubio’s hot shooting continued with another jumper leaving 10 seconds on the clock for the Lakers. First half comes to an end with the Lakers down, 67-60.
Wiggins got the scoring started in the second half with a jumper. Wiggins then converted the free throw that followed. Illegal defense call put Clarkson to the line who hit the freebie. Towns headed to the line and hit both free throws. 11-point lead for the Timberwolves. D’Angelo hit an easy one under the basket off a pass from Brewer. The former Timberwolves guard/forward went to the line and hit one out of two. Deng connected on a wide-open jumper. Brewer got to the line yet again. Hit both.
A pretty lob pass from D’Angelo to Black cut the lead to six. Deng got the bucket and the foul on the next possession. Rubio hit a free throw off a technical foul call on Randle. Three-pointer from Wiggins gives Minnesota a 12-point lead. Two free throws from Deng gives the Timberwolves their biggest lead of the game at 14. David Nwaba kept the free-throw game going with two of his own. Russell connected on two free throws making it a 10-point game. D’Angelo knocked down a three cutting the lead to seven. A technical foul on D’Angelo gives Minnesota another free throw from Rubio.
Towns got the fans in Minnesota on their feet with a monster jam on a fastbreak. Wiggins had a crowd-pleasing dunk not long after. Nance then has his dunk of the night. A pair of free throws from Rubio gives them a 12-point lead. Thomas Robinson got it back to a 10-point deficit before Wiggins brought it to 13. A three from Wiggins increased the lead to 15. Clarkson then connected on a drive and got to the line. Jordan converted on the freebie.
Third quarter mercifully comes to an end with the Timberwolves leading the Lakers, 96-82.
Robinson’s reserve layup gets the Lakers started in the fourth and final period. Casspi threw down a two-handed dunk. Robinson got another easy bucket on the other end. Nwaba got his one highlight dunk of the night following up a missed layup by Nance.
Rubio stayed hot with another jumper. Russell hit Robinson in stride for the dunk. Towns fouled hard by Robinson. Headed to the line and hit the first, missed the second. 11-point lead for the Timberwolves. Towns drained a three.
Clarkson connected on a shot from deep. Randle drew a charge on Towns. Lakers down 11. Robinson cracked double digits. Towns worked his way to the rim, finished the layup, drew the foul and hit the free throw. Clarkson hit another three off an assist from Russell. Rubio countered with an easy layup. Russell threw down a dunk to cut the lead to nine with less than three minutes left. Rubio set a new career-high with his 30th point. Randle scored in the paint. Wiggins hit a jumper at the shot-clock buzzer and the Lakers almost immediately turned it over. Dieng nailed a three essentially putting the nail in the coffin. Rubio ends it with a scoop layup improves his total to 33 points.
Lakers come up short in Minnesota, 119-104.