He might have only scored two points, but Tyson Chandler may have made the biggest plays of the night in his Los Angeles Lakers debut.
A late three-point shooting barrage made things close, but Chandler corralled three straight offensive rebounds before providing an excellent challenge on Derrick Rose’s potential game-winning shot as the Lakers came away with a 114-110 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Chandler paid immediate dividends for head coach Luke Walton’s team, helping hold Karl-Anthony Towns to just 5-for-16 shooting and making every late play the team needed. Five of Chandler’s nine rebounds came on the offensive end.
Of course, it was still LeBron James leading the way for the Lakers, falling just one assist shy of his second triple-double of the season with 24 points, 10 rebounds and 9 assists. James had plenty of help on this night with three other Lakers surpassing the 20-point mark.
Kyle Kuzma continued his great play as a starter with 21 points, while Brandon Ingram added 20 to go along with 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks. Josh Hart came off the bench to finish with 21 points, including five 3-pointers.
All of it almost didn’t matter as the Lakers struggled mightily to defend Minnesota’s deep shooting. The Timberwolves hit 20-of-40 from three-point range, with Rose and Jimmy Butler seemingly unstoppable all night.
Rose continued to look like his old self, finishing with 31 points on 7-for-9 from deep. He knocked down two straight to bring the Timberwolves within striking distance before missing the final shot. Butler hit 5-of-8 from behind the arc and finished with 24 points overall.
In the end, the difference might have been the Lakers really locking down defensively in the second half. After allowing 67 points in the first half, they turned it up, holding Minnesota to just 43 in the second and outscoring them by six in the final period.
Next up for the Lakers is another back-to-back this weekend as they head to Sacramento to face the surprising Kings on Saturday night before coming back home to host the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday.