The Los Angeles Lakers are looking to avoid their longest streak in franchise history tonight when the Minnesota Timberwolves come into town. An eleventh straight loss for the Lakers would be the a franchise worst and would represent one of the low points of the season. The Timberwolves are not much better; they are losers of 15 of their past 16 road games.
Kobe Bryant will be active tonight once again and his sore shoulder will be an issue that he will have to deal with for the rest of the season. The No. 1 overall pick in the draft, Karl-Anthony Towns, will matchup with D’Angelo Russell for the third time this season. Towns has gotten the best of Russell in the first two games, so it is up to Russell to have a big game tonight and prove his worth as the No. 2 overall pick.
Jordan Clarkson score four of the Lakers first six points, but the Lakers defensive rotations were poor and they allowed the Timberwolves to shoot 75 percent from the field in the first four minutes of the game. Julius Randle scored back-to-back buckets in the paint, but the Timberwolves answered back with four points of their own, and the Lakers trailed 12-20 midway through the first quarter. After the Lakers picked up their defense Kobe found himself trapped in the corner, but he found Clarkson on the perimeter, who then sidestepped his defender and made the floater in the lane to cut the Lakers deficit down to five points. Clarkson’s floater sparked a 10-0 Lakers run and the Lakers led 27-26 after Zach LeVine’s buzzer beater from the elbow.
D’Angelo Russell played aggressively and with confidence on the offensive end, scoring eight early points and getting the Lakers in a good offensive rhythm off of the pick-and-roll. Things got sloppy on both ends of the floor, but Russell’s impressive play helped the Lakers maintain a 39-36 with 5:44 to go in the half. On a broken play the Wolves had a three-on-one advantage, but Tarik Black played great position defense and forced a stop that lead to a Kobe Bryant three-pointer in transition and the Lakers led by eight. Kobe stayed hot from the field, making his third three-pointer of the night to give him 15 points and the Lakers a 12 point lead with 3:22 remaining in the half. With the Lakers still rolling, Williams found a diving Randle, who finished with two hands at the rim with authority. The Lakers scored 39 points in the second quarter and led the Timberwolves 66-52 at the half.
After scoring a season-high 66 first half points, the Lakers pushed their lead to 16 after Kobe nailed his fourth three-pointer of the evening. Julius Randle continued to have a great all-around game with 11 points and nine rebounds midway through the third, but Kobe stole the show with his fifth three-pointer of the game to give him 21 points. Karl-Anthony Towns showed off his range when Randle dared him to shoot a three, and he knocked it down to cut the Lakers lead to 12. Kobe Bryant continued to score efficiently and the Lakers played well through three quarters. The Timberwolves outscored the Lakers by three points in the third quarter, but the Lakers still had the 92-81 advantage at the end of the third quarter.
The Timberwolves opened up the fourth quarter with six straight points, and just like that, the Lakers only led by five points with a whole lot of ball game to be played. Brandon Bass and Jordan Clarkson momentarily stopped the bleeding with back-to-back buckets in the paint, but the Wolves still managed to put points on the board from the free throw line. After Andrew Wiggins cut the Lakers lead down to three, Russell made a three-pointer from his favorite spot on the floor to give him 18 points in the game. Kobe Bryant checked back into the game midway through the fourth to guard Wiggins and the Lakers were up 101-97. The Timberwolves scored five straight points to give them their second lead of the game with 5:22 left in the game. Kobe knocked down back-to-back clutch threes to push the Lakers lead back up to five and gave him 30 points in the game. LeVine’s left-handed layup cut the Lakers lead down to one with under two minutes to play, but Julius Randle made a left-handed hook shot over Karl-Anthony Towns to put the Lakers back up three with one 1:04 to play. Minnesota made two free throws, but Kobe responded with yet another clutch pull-up jumper to give the Lakers a three point lead with 26 seconds to play. Wiggins turned the ball over and when the Timberwolves played the could game, Kobe made six straight free throws to seal the game. Final Score: Lakers 119 Timberwolves 115.