Russell Westbrook guarded by defenders
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Third Quarter Woes Doom L.A. in Loss to T-Wolves

by Matthew Barrero

Following back-to-back, gritty overtime victories over Charlotte and Miami, the Lakers faced a lowly Minnesota Timberwolves (4-7) team that entered STAPLES Center riding a six-game losing streak. But all streaks must come to an end and, unfortunately for Los Angeles (7-5), they were on the wrong side of the scoresheet tonight, losing to Minnesota 107-83.

Frank Vogel emphasized during his postgame presser how the Lakers effort has not been good enough, consistently in the third quarter this season.

“We’re talking about it and we’re challenging our guys to be better,” Vogel said. “There’s no better motivator than a bad loss. I think all of our guys are angry, coaching staff is angry and we’ll get back to work and do whatever we need to do to fix it and get our execution better and all those things: Effort, Focus, Execution.”

The third quarter was the difference in a relatively close game that saw Los Angeles lead by five at the end of the first half.

An Anthony Davis 19-footer at the 11:17 mark of the third quarter would be the last shot the Lakers put through the net until an Avery Bradley three-pointer that came with 3:44 left in the quarter: a scoring drought of more than seven minutes.

In that same drought, Minnesota would go on a 26-5 run and eventually outscore L.A. 40-12 in the entire third quarter (outscored L.A. 63-34 in the entire second half.

The 28-point differential was their second-worst points differential in any quarter in the shot-clock era (1954-55).

The third quarter struggles have not been anything new to the Lake Show this season as they have now been outscored 408-321 (-87) in the quarter this season.

“Every third quarter we’ve played this season, we’ve come out slow, lackadaisical offensively and defensively,” Davis said postgame. “We got to decide who we want to be. We got to be better, and we got to care more for our wins at home, wins in general. That was embarrassing.”

Davis led the team with 22 points and added 8 rebounds with 3 blocks while Russell Westbrook added 20 points on his 33rd birthday. Dwight Howard saw 23 minutes off the bench and scored 9 points to go along with 10 rebounds.

For the Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns led all scorers with 29 points on 11-of-17 shooting (4-of-8 from three-point range) and former Laker D’Angelo Russell contributed 22 points and 7 assists in his ‘revenge game.’

The Lakers will rest and prepare for a Sunday afternoon matinee against the San Antonio Spurs.

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