The Play-In Tournament game featuring the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves felt exactly like the playoffs. With the winner taking the No. 7 seed and a crack at the Memphis Grizzlies in round 1 of the 2023 NBA Playoffs, the atmosphere was tense throughout the night.
Although the Timberwolves were shorthanded without Rudy Gobert and Jaden McDaniels, they gave the Lakers everything they could handle. Minnesota seemed to capitalize on every open 3 they got, building all the way up to a 15-point lead.
However, Los Angeles showed real grit and toughness in the second half as they dug deep and managed to survive in a thriller that went into overtime. The Lakers can breathe easy knowing they’ve advanced past the Play-In Tournament and get four days to rest before playing the Grizzlies.
LeBron James is no stranger to coming up big in the Play-In and he had another wonderful performance. With Minnesota intent on trying to slow down Anthony Davis, James took it upon himself to carry the scoring load for Los Angeles. The 30-year-old led all scorers with 30 points on an efficient 12-of-21 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds and assists.
In a game that was defined by defense, the King was able to score just enough to get the purple and gold over the hump.
Davis had an enticing matchup on paper as the Timberwolves were thin in their front court. However, Minnesota came prepared as they threw different double teams at Davis that forced him to pass the ball on most half court possessions. Despite that, the star big man still managed to stuff the stat sheet as he recorded 24 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals.
Davis did commit a grave error in the fourth quarter as he fouled Mike Conley on a 3-point attempt. Conley would drain all three free throws to send the game into overtime, though Davis and the rest of the team responded well to the adverse situation.
While James and Davis led the way for the Lakers, Dennis Schroder should be considered the hero of the game. With D’Angelo Russell struggling mightily with his shot, Schroder stepped up big time as he scored 21 points off the bench. Not only that, but his ball pressured helped stymie the Timberwolves offense.
Schroder hit the biggest shot of the night when he drained a 3 in the corner that would’ve been the game-winner had Davis not fouled Conley.
What’s next for Lakers
Los Angeles gets four days off before they play Game 1 against Memphis on Sunday. Details for Game 2 will be released at a later time.
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