LeBron James shoots against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov. 7, 2018.
(Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Lakers)

4 Lakers Score 20-Plus in Wild Win Over Wolves

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

It took everyone and everything that the Lakers could muster up, but they got their revenge.

Nine days after falling in heartbreaking fashion in Minnesota, they avoided a similar conclusion by closing out the Timberwolves, 114-110, on a night when four Lakers scored 20-plus points.

“The way we played in the second half is a great example of the team that we have to be,” coach Luke Walton said. “And we have been that team in spurts this season. But that’s the team that we can count on getting stops and we can count on winning a game with their defense.”

The Lakers (5-6) played their best defensive game yet, but the Wolves (4-8) hung around by hitting a ton of difficult shots, including much of their 20-of-40 clip on 3-pointers. Those triples were key factors in the game’s final stanza.

It was all tied up with four minutes left when Rajon Rondo — who had 10 points but shot just 1-of-7 — began taking the game into his control.

First he flipped the ball to Brandon Ingram in transition, while stopping in front of Ingram’s man to function as a screen. The 21-year-old cashed the trey, but a red-hot Derrick Rose answered with one of his own.

Next it was Ingram’s turn to dime up a cutting Kyle Kuzma, who was able to free himself thanks to a back screen from Rondo that left the defense scrambling.

LeBron James then sunk a fadeaway off a post-up on Andrew Wiggins, and Kuzma added a 3-pointer on a transition assist from (you guessed it) Rondo.

But it was Tyson Chandler, signed just one day before, who made the biggest difference in the closing minute of his Lakers debut.

Rose — who erupted for 31 points and seven 3-pointers (on nine attempts) — knocked down back-to-back tough triples to cut the Lakers’ lead to one with a minute left.

On the ensuing possession, the Lakers could not crack the Wolves’ defense. L.A. missed three straight shots, but Chandler saved it every time with a trio of offensive rebounds.

“The way D-Rose was shooting the ball towards the end, we needed every last one fo those offensive rebounds,” LeBron said. “It allowed us to win the game.”

Those boards eventually led to Kuzma splitting a pair of free throws for a two-point edge. But that gave Rose one more chance to win it.

The former MVP found some space to shoot on an inbounds play, but Chandler’s 7-foot-3 wingspan was just long enough to challenge the shot, which bounced off the back iron. Josh Hart hit a couple foul shots to ice the game.

“Obviously the possession with those tap-outs late in the game really helped seal the deal,” Walton said. “He’s a winning player. He’s a champion for a lot of years in this league, and he gave us a taste of what he could do.”

Chandler — who also set monster screens and played great defense on all-star Karl-Anthony Towns — had such an impact on a night that wasn’t reflected by his two-point, nine-rebound stat line. But several of his Lakers did pack the box score.

LeBron was chief among them, narrowly missing out on a triple-double with 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. He was at his best attacking in transition, both as a scorer and passer.

Two of LeBron’s primary benefactors were Hart and Kuzma, who both scored 21 points and caught fire from deep.

Hart splashed five 3-pointers on only seven attempts, while Kuzma hit four treys of his own.

Meanwhile, Ingram joined the party in the second half, attacking off the pick-and-roll for much of his 20-point, six-assist night.

“He plays at the B.I. pace that nobody else can play at,” James said. “He’s just that good, that confident in his ability. B.I. plays at his own pace. You’ve just got to give him the ball and let him do what he does.”

Notes
JaVale McGee scored 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting. … The Lakers had 32 assists and shot 15-of-34 on 3-pointers (44.1 percent). … L.A. allowed only nine free throw attempts, and Minnesota hit eight of them. … Jimmy Butler (25 points, five 3-pointers) and Taj Gibson (16 points, 11 rebounds) had big games for Minnesota. … Jack Nicholson, Denzel Washington, Will Ferrell, Todd Gurley, Emily Ratajkowski, Joe Jonas and Nick Jonas were among the sold-out crowd.

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