The Lakers started out their five-game home stand with a bummer.
Minnesota came into their house and beat the Lakers, 110-102. It’s the second time they’ve beaten the Lakers, having done it on October 28th, 2022.
I don’t like it when people say “(fill in player/team) wanted it more” as the reason player/team won the game. But it feels appropriate to describe this game. There didn’t seem to be much of an urgency from the Lakers for a lot of the game, especially when you consider what position Los Angeles is in.
We saw the usual Lakers in the third quarter where they got down by double digits. It got even worse at the start of the fourth as the Wolves bench raised the lead to 14. The Lakers finally woke up as Anthony Davis and Malik Beasley made consecutive threes to start a 14-4 run. But the veteran and new Wolf Mike Conley made a backbreaking three to boost the lead to 6 points while Anthony Davis played the defensive possession with one shoe. I’m not saying that play lost it for the Lakers but it certainly halted the Lakers’ momentum. Of course, an opponent would have a big play while one of the Lakers would have a shoe missing. Not like it’s happened before, right?
For the most part, Anthony Davis was a one-man team. He finished with 38 points but he only had five boards. The Lakers only had two other players in double figures; Malik Beasley ended with 15 points while Lonnie Walker IV had 10. The Lakers started off hot; they went 13 for 23 (.565) in the first but went 23 for 63 (.365) the rest of the way.
The defense (particularly Conley, Jaden McDaniels, and Anthony Edwards) by the Timberwolves on the point of attack was key. And the Lakers badly needed another playmaker outside of Dennis Schröder. Rudy Gobert dominated the paint; he scored 22 points and grabbed 14 boards. Edwards (19 points) didn’t shoot spectacularly but he was just all over the place on both ends of the court. Naz Reid (15 points) and Taurean Prince (13 points) were fantastic off the bench, too. Minnesota was also better in the paint (+12 for Minnesota) and in a frenzied pace (26-10 fast break points in favor of the Wolves).
The Lakers did lose but the Jazz, Clippers, Blazers, and the Pelicans also lost so they’re fortunate in that regard. Still, they can’t rely on other teams losing. And they wasted a huge scoring game from Anthony Davis and a chance to move into 10th place.
Come Sunday, the Lakers are running it back with the Golden State Warriors. And Stephen Curry might be returning for that game. Just fantastic timing.