The Los Angeles Lakers keep surprising everyone with how well they continue to play. The Lakers come out of New Orleans with a 126-97 victory against the Pelicans for their sixth win of the season.
Once again the Lakers waited until the second half to pull ahead and head coach Luke Walton isn’t happy with the trend, but he has a theory why it is happening, via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Luke Walton on Lakers 2nd half surge (on SPSN): "This is my speculation, I think they feel more challenged in the 2nd half to get it done."
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) November 13, 2016
The Lakers go to Minnesota to face a struggling Timberwolves team on Sunday in the second game of a back-to-back. The Wolves started the season 2-6 with their most recent loss to the Los Angeles Clippers last night. The Lakers and Wolves are both young teams trying to make a name for themselves. The Wolves did not make a lot of changes to their roster this past offseason but are expected to have tremendous improvement because of their hiring of Tom Thibodeau as the head coach and president of basketball operations.
This game will be a great measuring stick game for the Lakers. The Wolves are not as bad as their record suggests and both teams are in similar spots in their rebuilding process. The young players on these teams will be battling each other a lot over the years, so it is always nice to show that you are better than them.
The Lakers backcourt has been excellent. D’Angelo Russell, Nick Young, Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams combined for 84 points against the Pelicans. D’Angelo Russell was able to put together a good game with 22 points, six assists, and only three turnovers.
Jordan Clarkson had 23 points shooting 75 percent from the field. Clarkson seems more comfortable on the floor when his only job is to attack both ends of the floor. Luke Walton has given point guard duties to D’Angelo Russell, Lou Williams, and Brandon Ingram to allow Clarkson to focus more on scoring and playing defense.
Nick Young has been a constant in the Lakers offense this season. Everytime Russell drives to the basket; it feels like Young is open for three on the perimeter. Also, Young has stepped up his defensive effort.
Lou Williams looks like the Sixth Man of the Year again. Williams is the veteran presence the Lakers need when they go into a scoring slump or when it feels like the another team is chipping away at the lead. Williams can get to the free throw line, play well in the pick and roll and come away with a steal to get momentum back on the Lakers’ side.
The Timberwolves are very young in their backcourt. They have Ricky Rubio, surprisingly only 26 years old, and Zach LaVine in their starting unit. Rubio has never been a defensive stopper, so he had to rely on his offense game. Rubio seems just to be a cog in the machine averaging 5.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game.
LaVine came into the league as electrifying`player and since then has worked on his playmaking and three-point shooting making him a player that is the same mold of Jordan Clarkson. LaVine is scoring 19.2 points this season and will be a player the Lakers need to stop.
Lakers frontcourt has been very solid this year. Julius Randle had eight points, eight assists and 11 rebounds against the Pelicans. Randle continues to show strides in all aspects of his game, most notably his defense. Randle has struggled against length throughout his NBA career, let’s hope he can play well against the likes of Karl-Anthony Towns and Gorgui Dieng
The Lakers frontcourt is littered with important role players like Timofey Mozgov, Larry Nance Jr., and Tarik Black. All of these players play their role to perfection. Mozgov comes in to provide solid low post defense and be a defensive anchor; Nance comes off the bench with limitless energy, is active in the passing lanes and is a threat on offense end; Black has been able to blend right mix of Mozgov and Nance’s talents.
Karl-Anthony Towns has been a player that everyone has been talking about this past offseason. Towns is touted as the next great NBA big man; he can anchor his defensive, make a three-pointer and create for others on the offensive end. He is averaging 22.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.8 assists. The Wolves hope that Towns will be a top-five NBA player and lead this team to a championship.
Anthony Wiggins is another player the Wolves have high hopes for because he is a player that can take over on both sides of the floor, just like his teammate Towns. Wiggins has shown smooth moves on the offensive side of the ball and ability to lock down the other teams best player.
Keys to Victory
Keep Turnovers Down:
Even with a good showing in New Orleans, only turning the ball over ten times, the Lakers need to prove they can do this on a consistent basis. The Lakers are still among the league leaders in turnovers; this will not change overnight.
Defend the Three-Point Shot:
Minnesota Timberwolves are shooting 21.8 threes a game and making those threes at a league-best 40.8 percent. The Lakers defense has been something we can all be proud of this season, so keep that going.
Push the Pace:
The Lakers are playing their best when they are playing at a fast pace. The Timberwolves are coached by Tom Thibodeau who is one of the best coaches in the league at shutting down your halfcourt offense. Getting early offense means easier points.
Los Angeles Lakers (6-4) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (2-6)
4:00 P.M. PST, November 13, 2016
Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Timberwolves Starting Lineup:
PG: Ricky Rubio
SG: Zach LaVine
SF: Andrew Wiggins
PF: Karl-Anthony Towns
C: Gorgui Dieng
Key Reserves: Kris Dunn, Brandon Rush, Shabazz Muhammad, Cole Aldrich, Jordan Hill
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Nick Young
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Julius Randle
C: Timofey Mozgov
Key Reserves: Brandon Ingram, Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr., Lou Williams, Tarik Black