The Los Angeles Lakers picked up a rare win Friday night over the Minnesota Timberwolves, 130-119. They trailed most of the game until they finally decided to play some defense in the fourth quarter and it triggered a strong comeback. The unlikely line-up on the floor during the surge included Corey Brewer, Tyler Ennis, Larry Nance, Jr., Jordan Clarkson, and David Nwaba.
For Minnesota, Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns were as good as advertised, finishing with 36 and 25 points, respectively. Ricky Rubio also had a strong game with 19 points and 15 rebounds. On this night, however, it was not enough to overcome a strong team effort from the purple and gold.
The Lakers scored a season high 130 points, but it was only when they started to lock down on defense that they were able to take a lead and hold on to it.
It was the Lakers first overtime game of the season, and it was a successful one. The only negative is that the team’s “lead” over the Phoenix Suns for the second worst record in the league is down to one game.
Here are three takeaways from the exciting victory over Minnesota.
1. Jordan Clarkson Had Another Career Night
For the second time this month, Jordan Clarkson set a new career high in scoring and had an outstanding game on both ends of the floor. This time, Clarkson finished with 35 points on an efficient 13-20 from the field. He also made eight of 10 three point shots, another career record. Always the workhorse, he played the entire second half and overtime period without a break.
On this night, Clarkson ran the offense from the point guard position with confidence and good pace. In 35 minutes on the court, he had only one turnover. He also finished with five assists and completed some pinpoint passes that were awfully good.
Clarkson had perhaps his worst game of the season in the last contest, so this was an impressive bounce back game for him. One thing you can count on from Clarkson is that he will always play hard and give his maximum effort, and on this night he was the best player on the Lakers team.
2. Julius Randle Had His Own Bounce Back Game
Julius Randle had been in a bit of a funk lately, but he was instrumental in securing the win for the Lakers. His stat line was impressive: 23 points on 8-14 from the field, 5-6 from the free throw line, 12 rebounds, three assists, and two blocks. He also played some defense in the fourth quarter, which is something fans do not see from Randle on a regular basis.
It is becoming obvious that Randle has improved his outside shooting the second half of the season. He is not hesitating to shoot when he is open and he is starting to knock down the shots with much greater regularity.
In this contest, Randle connected on two three-point shots which was a great sign. With his prowess in the paint, if Randle can develop a consistent outside shot, he will be a load for any defense to handle.
3. The Lakers Got Solid Contributions From their Bench
Corey Brewer, David Nwaba, Tyler Ennis, and Larry Nance, Jr. all made major contributions to the Lakers’ victory. Their defense was the key, but they contributed on the offensive end as well.
Nwaba had a career high ten points and seven rebounds. He played 26 minutes including most of the fourth quarter, which is a sign that the coaching staff really likes him and has growing confidence in what he brings to the team.
Brewer had his best game as a Laker, and he was very instrumental in securing the win. In 16 minutes, he scored 12 points on 5-8 shooting and energized the team with his hustle. Tyler Ennis scored only four points but ran the offense efficiently while he was on the floor.
Nance had an outstanding game, the kind of night the Lakers have grown accustomed to seeing from him on a regular basis when he is healthy. He played 35 minutes off the bench and chipped in 13 points, seven rebounds, five assists and a steal.
He battled Karl Anthony Towns much of the night and was especially effective the final 24 minutes after Towns had enjoyed a monster first half. Nance played most of the second half and in the overtime period, and the Lakers would not have won without him.