The Los Angeles Lakers wrapped up their back-to-back in Las Vegas on Thursday night, taking on the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Darvin Ham opted to rest most of the team’s veterans including LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn, allowing some young players to get extended playing time.
Meanwhile, the Timberwolves played all of their main guys outside of Karl-Anthony Towns, who remains out with an illness. The result was to be expected as the Lakers fell, 114-99, to close out their Las Vegas trip.
The young Lakers actually got off to a phenomenal start as Thomas Bryant got the scoring started and then Austin Reaves and Scotty Pippen Jr. drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 8-0 early.
Pippen and Bryant led the way for L.A. in the first quarter with six points each, expanding the lead to 17-9. Anthony Edwards got going for Minnesota with nine first-quarter points though to cut the Lakers’ lead to 27-24 after one.
The Lakers’ cold streak continued into the second quarter as the Timberwolves took their first lead, although Max Christie responded with a midrange jumper. Christie then had a thunderous putback dunk that got the T-Mobile Arena crowd on its feet.
It was midway through the second quarter that the more experienced Timberwolves began to pull away from the Lakers, who struggled taking care of the ball.
One of the only Lakers with NBA experience, Lonnie Walker IV, was making his team debut after sitting out the first two preseason games due to an ankle injury. He provided L.A. with a spark when they needed it, draining a 3 and then finishing a circus reverse layup.
Ultimately, the Lakers went into the halftime locker room trailing 52-43 after a very competitive half.
Both teams got off to a sloppy start in the third quarter. Scoring was an issue for the Lakers minus so many key players, but Bryant did his part with an and-one and then Juan Toscano-Anderson hit one from deep to keep the deficit within 10.
From there though, Minnesota went on a 13-0 to stretch their lead to 20+. The Lakers really struggled offensively, air balling a few attempts from deep. Through three quarters, the Lakers’ deficit was 88-64 with the game firmly out of reach.
The fourth quarter did allow the young Lakers players to get some valuable minutes though, and that included Cole Swider finally knocking down a 3 after a couple of rough shooting nights. That actually got him going offensively a little bit, which could be a good sign moving forward.
Walker also impressed in his debut, finishing with 10 points, five rebounds, three assists, one steal and two blocks in 23 minutes. He got some run at point guard, making plays for others even though he struggled from the field.
Bryant led the way for L.A. offensively with 18 points and seven rebounds.
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