The Los Angeles Lakers have looked re-energized since coming out of the All-Star break, and that was the case again on Tuesday night as they cruised to a 137-121 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves to extend their winning streak to three.
While the Lakers won comfortably, their trend of sloppy starts continued as they committed four early turnovers to start the game, but took the early lead because the Timberwolves were not sharp themselves. Most of Los Angeles’ points came at the free-throw line, while Minnesota eventually got to executing their offense and kept pace.
The number of free throws killed the flow of the game for both teams, but Talen Horton-Tucker was able to inject some life into the Lakers by driving into the restricted area for a dish to Montrezl Harrell and a tough layup. Wesley Matthews hit a 3-pointer at the end of the quarter and Los Angeles went into the second leading 31-30.
Harrell established himself in the low post early in the second, earning another trip to the line and scoring in the paint to keep the Lakers narrowly ahead. However, turnovers once again kept L.A. from breaking the game open and Minnesota took advantage with a 3-pointer to recapture the lead.
Back-to-back threes from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Alfonzo McKinnie put the Lakers back up, but Karl Anthony-Towns made sure the T-Wolves stayed within striking distance. Defense was optional in the closing minutes, but the Purple and Gold managed to hold on to a 71-70 advantage heading into the half.
LeBron James asserted himself offensively to begin the third, but the Timberwolves took the momentum as they carved up the Laker defense. However, James did come up with a highlight block on Jake Layman and followed it up with a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to two.
The offensive execution for the Lakers picked up midway through the quarter as they were able to generate good looks, going on a 15-3 run in the process. Kyle Kuzma was able to score a couple of times in transition and L.A. walked into the fourth up 102-94.
Horton-Tucker gave L.A. their first double-digit lead of the night after converting an impressive and-1, while Harrell denied Naz Reid on the other end. The Timberwolves had no answer for the James-Harrell pick-and-roll that resulted in three straight dunks, giving the Lakers more breathing room.
Minnesota looked like they might make a late run, but Harrell was able to lift the Laker offense and keep them at bay.
For the second consecutive night, James led the way for the Lakers with a triple-double, finishing with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists in the victory. With the win, the Lakers swept their season series against the last-place Timberwolves.
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