(Photo By: David Sherman/Getty Images)
Lakers vs. Timberwolves: 3 Things to Know (12/25/17)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers’ Christmas Day contest against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
1) The Lakers are going for the Christmas record
The Lakers playing on Christmas has been an NBA tradition for 19 consecutive years, but it actually goes back even further.
From Jerry West scoring 47 points in 1963 to Kobe Bryant playing in a league-record 16 Christmas games, basketball fans are always in for a purple and gold Christmas.
And in the franchise’s 43 total appearances on Christmas Day, the Lakers have amassed 22 wins, tying New York for most in history.
The Knicks play the first game of the day against Philadelphia, and the Lakers cap off the night against the Wolves.
If all goes L.A.’s way, it will head to Dec. 26 with the NBA’s most Christmas Day wins ever.
THIS DAY IN KOBE HISTORY: December 25 2008: What better #NBAXmas gift could the Lakers give their fans than snapping the hated Boston Celtics’ franchise-record win streak? Boston entered the game with 19 consecutive victories, but the Lakers treated a sold-out Staples Center to a 92-83 win over the team that beat them in the previous NBA Finals. More #TDIKH on Lakers.com
2) The Lakers hobble into this game potentially down three starters
Second-overall draft pick Lonzo Ball (shoulder sprain) and starting center Brook Lopez (ankle sprain) are out. Brandon Ingram (quad contusion/tendinitis) is questionable.
Luke Walton has quite the challenge on his plate.
Ball’s recent injury is a particularly tough obstacle for the Lakers, who have come to rely on his ability to start fast-breaks, defend well and haul in rebounds.
And to compound matters, the Lakers have lately used Ingram in significant minutes at point guard, leaving even fewer options to run the offense if B.I. can’t play.
The Lakers will likely need more playmaking out of second-unit point guard Jordan Clarkson and increased minutes for the likes of Alex Caruso and Tyler Ennis.
Meanwhile, to make up for the scoring of Lopez, Ball and (potentially) Ingram, look for Clarkson, Kyle Kuzma and Julius Randle to get more shots up in this battle.
3) The Wolves are stacked with firepower
Jimmy Butler is averaging 31.3 points over his last three games, thanks to some hot shooting from the field and a steady parade to the free throw line.
Karl-Anthony Towns leads the NBA in double-doubles (26 in 33 games), and Andrew Wiggins averaged more points against the Lakers last year than any other player (37.8).
Mix in Minnesota’s tendency to win the turnover battle (an Achilles heel of the Lakers), and the Timberwolves are a tough opponent on a national stage.
The purple and gold will have to outshoot them on the other end, where Minnesota allows the NBA’s highest opponent field goal percentage (48.2) and highest percentage at the rim (68.6).
The Lakers — whose offense relies so much on drives to the basket — will try to take advantage of this lack of paint protection, while also attempting to win back points beyond the arc against the team that makes the NBA’s fewest 3-pointers (8.1).
Lakers: Lonzo Ball (left shoulder sprain) and Brook Lopez (right ankle sprain) are out. Brandon Ingram (right quad contusion, left quad tendinitis) is questionable.
Timberwolves: Nemanja Bjelica (sprained left midfoot) is TBD.
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Location: Staples Center — Los Angeles, California