Coming in losers of three straight, the Los Angeles Lakers desperately needed a win on Thursday night. The only problem was that they were on the road facing the Minnesota Timberwolves, who own the best record in the Western Conference.
It also was the second game of a back-to-back, so LeBron James and Gabe Vincent were not able to play. Anthony Davis was able to play despite spraining his ankle in Wednesday’s loss, but all of the obstacles were too much for the Lakers to overcome in a 118-111 loss.
The Lakers were playing with some nice energy early, defending well, rebounding and getting out in transition to take a 12-5 lead. Davis and D’Angelo Russell had to early buckets each to lead the shorthanded starting lineup.
Minnesota eventually settled in though with Mike Conley and Karl-Anthony Towns connecting from deep to tie it at 14.
Starting in place of LeBron James, Rui Hachimura contributed early with a dunk and a 3-pointer. Anthony Edwards began to insert his presence with an emphatic dunk, but Taurean Prince beat the first-quarter buzzer to cut the Lakers’ deficit to 36-32.
After a few uncharacteristic turnovers to end the first, Austin Reaves got back on track with a few crafty finishes, including an and-one, to begin the second.
Turnovers were an issue for the Lakers though, allowing Minnesota to maintain a small advantage for most of the second quarter. Again it was Prince hitting a triple at the end of the quarter though to send the Lakers into the locker room trailing 63-59.
Davis came out strong in the second half as his trend of the midrange jumper improving continued. Prince then connected from deep again and all of a sudden the game was tied at 70.
With Davis continuing to dominate offensively and Hachimura drilling a triple, the Lakers actually took a slim lead at 82-81. Hachimura want then hit hard by Towns on a drive to the basket, resulting in a Flagrant 1 call. This time it was Naz Reid to hit a triple at the end of the quarter though and the Timberwolves led 87-83 going into the fourth.
Minnesota stretched its lead to eight early in the fourth before Hachimura had a big steal and dunk in transition.
Although he had a rough first three quarters, D’Angelo Russell started to come alive in the fourth with some buckets to keep his team in it.
The Timberwolves simply had too much fire power late though as they didn’t have an answer for Edwards and Towns down the stretch. Minnesota built its lead up to double-digits and was able to cruise from there.
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