The wait is finally over as the Los Angeles Lakers kick of the 2017-18 preseason against the new-look Minnesota Timberwolves. Both squads made major additions over the offseason and hope to see big improvements.
For Lakers fans this represents the first look at second overall pick Lonzo Ball, who is being tasked with turning around this franchise. Second-year forward Brandon Ingram has also been putting in a ton of work this summer in hopes of building on his rookie year.
The Timberwolves added All-Star Jimmy Butler to go along with their pair of young cornerstones in Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Most expect them to be a playoff team so the Lakers will have their hands full immediately.
Julius Randle got the Lakers first basket of the preseason as Larry Nance Jr tipped a pass to him on a broken alley-oop attempt. Randle would follow it up with nice scoop shot as the Lakers trailed early. The play was sloppy, just as Luke Walton predicted, but Brandon Ingram would hit a 3 off the assist from Lonzo put the Lakers ahead. Ingram continued his hot start with 9 early points, but the rest of the Lakers went cold as they fell behind by six. The bench came on as Ivica Zubac looked like a completely different player than in Summer League with six quick points. Rookie Kyle Kuzma hit a three to end the scoring in the first as the teams were tied at 31.
L.A. got off to a great start with an excellent play that led to a Zubac open dunk followed by an easy open jumper for Ennis. The Lakers struggled after as fouls continued to pile up and Shabazz Muhammad took over for Minnesota. The Timberwolves continued to push ahead as turnovers and blown chances hurt the Lakers. A Karl-Anthony Towns three-point play put Minnesota ahead by 10 before a Lonzo floater cut the lead back to single digits. The teams played pretty even to end the half and a Clarkson jumper to end the second brought L.A. to within nine at halftime, 61-52
The Lakers struggled coming out in the second half as overall sloppy play and missed opportunities plagued them. Towns continued to shine for Minnesota as they used a 12-2 run to pull ahead by 18. A couple of buckets from Randle was the only early offense for Los Angeles. Kuzma really picked it up in the quarter as he exploded for eight quick points to cut the Lakers deficit to 10. Clarkson checked in and immediately hit a three, and Ennis continued his solid play, but L.A. was unable to cut into the deficit as they went into the fourth trailing 86-74.
Ennis found Clarkson on the fast break for a great basket and foul and in the process had the 0 ripped off of his jersey forcing him out of the game. The Lakers struggled to close the gap as they remained down by 12 midway through the quarter despite solid play from Corey Brewer. Alex Caruso and Thomas Bryant checked in and immediately connected on an alley-oop and Nance brought the Lakers to within single digits with five minutes remaining. Kuzma got a basket and Vander Blue’s free throws cut the deficit to seven with under three minutes remaining, but the Lakers couldn’t get it closer. Despite 19 points from Kuzma, L.A. fell 108-99 to the Timberwolves.