Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Davis both missed Sunday’s game due to respective injuries, and to no surprise the Los Angeles Lakers were better able to withstand the loss of their All-Star big man in a 127-91 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Kyle Kuzma was inserted into the starting lineup in place of Davis and immediately made the most of the opportunity. He knocked down four consecutive 3-pointers and early in the first quarter was single-handedly outscoring the Timberwolves.
Kuzma did eventually miss from deep but the Lakers collectively shot well throughout the game to maintain a comfortable lead. Kuzma went on to lead all players with 20 points.
Heading into the matchup, head coach Frank Vogel emphasized the need to rely on depth throughout the roster and avoid becoming complacent due to Towns’ absence. “He’s one of the best players in the league, so obviously it changes them dramatically. We’ve got to make sure we don’t let our guard down,” he said prior to tipoff.
“There were a few instances last year where the opponent had a key guy out and we didn’t play to our abilities. Other guys on the other teams were able to step up, and I expect that from the Timberwolves tonight.”
The Lakers did have a brief lapse in the second quarter, during which the Timberwolves cut their deficit to 15 points. However, L.A. responded and went into halftime with a 67-45 lead. There was a bit of a scare prior in the final seconds as LeBron James rolled his left ankle ad remained down on the floor for a bit.
James remained in the game and helped the Lakers keep their sizable lead in the second half. With the Lakers completing a back-to-back on Monday night, it would not be surprising if Davis returned and James sat with the balky left ankle.
While Marc Gasol did so in the first quarter, the third saw Wesley Matthews make his first basket as a member of the Lakers. Gasol nearly had a triple-double as he finished with 12 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists.
He may have reached it if not for the fourth quarter essentially being handled by the Lakers bench.
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