The Los Angeles Lakers are hosting the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday in what promises to be the first real test for head coach Darvin Ham’s starting rotation.
The Timberwolves beat the Lakers 114-99 in Las Vegas last Thursday, expectedly blowing out L.A.’s reserve unit while the team’s stars enjoyed a night off. But Minnesota will face a completely different side at Crypto.com Arena as, with only two preseason games left, Ham has promised to take a closer look at the rotation he will rely on in the first weeks of the 2022-23 campaign.
Damian Jones should partner Anthony Davis in the frontcourt with James manning the wing and Russell Westbrook running the point. Kendrick Nunn will likely complete the starting 5 amid his fantastic preseason performance, slightly edging the other shining light of training camp, Austin Reaves.
Dennis Schroder should make his preseason debut after finally joining his teammates on Monday, making Troy Brown Jr. the only unavailable Laker for the game.
The Timberwolves dominated the Lakers on the glass last week, but rebounding won’t come as easily for them this time around. Rudy Gobert will sit out the Wednesday clash, leaving Minnesota much more vulnerable in the paint.
Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards will certainly challenge the Lakers defense with both averaging at least 25 points this preseason. But the spotlight will be on L.A.’s offense, which has struggled in the run-in to the 2022-23 season’s tip-off.
The Purple and Gold rank third-last in field goal percentage (39.6%) and are the fifth-worst 3-point shooting team of the preseason, making just 30.2% of their triples.
The Lakers showed off their scoring potential in the win over the Golden State Warriors with Davis, Nunn and Matt Ryan combining for 69 points. The matchup with Minnesota offers a great opportunity to confirm the offense is indeed trending up — and, for Ryan and two-way players Cole Swider and Scotty Pippen Jr., to prove they should be part of the final roster come Opening Night.
There’s just under a week left before competitive games begin. But the Wednesday clash should come as close to a regular-season game as a preseason matchup can — meaning, it’s showtime!
Minnesota Timberwolves (3-0) @ Los Angeles Lakers (1-3)
7:00 p.m. PT, October 12, 2022
Crytpo.com Arena, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet, ESPN
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Kendrick Nunn
SF: LeBron James
PF: Anthony Davis
C: Damian Jones
Key Reserves: Austin Reaves, Patrick Beverley, Dennis Schroder, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Thomas Bryant, Wenyen Gabriel, Cole Swider, Matt Ryan
Projected Warriors Starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Jaden McDaniels
SF: Anthony Edwards
PF: Naz Reid
C: Karl-Anthony Towns
Key Reserves: Jaylen Nowell, Austin Rivers, Taurean Prince, Jordan McLaughlin
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