Michael Beasley vs. Minnesota
Michael Beasley attempts a layup against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Jan. 6, 2019.
(Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Lakers)

Undermanned Lakers Can't Catch Wolves

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

Ivica Zubac split a pair of free throws, giving the Lakers a 1-0 lead. The remaining 47 minutes and 43 seconds were all downhill.

Minnesota responded with 15 unanswered points and built its lead as high as 28, rolling past the Lakers, 108-86.

The Lakers (21-19) fell for the fifth time in six games since losing LeBron James due to a strained groin. Nobody came close to matching James’ production on this day, as Lance Stephenson led L.A. in scoring with only 14 points.

The purple and gold’s offense continued to struggle without LeBron, shooting just 36.8 percent from the field and hitting only five 3-pointers on 22.7 percent.

Kyle Kuzma missed his second straight game due to a lower back contusion, and the rest of the young core — Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart — struggled, shooting a combined 8-of-32.

“They’re trying and they’re young, but at some point we need more passion,” coach Luke Walton said. “We need more fight. That’s not scoring more; that’s more diving for loose balls, communicating loudly.”

Meanwhile, the Timberwolves (19-21) had no shortage of productivity. Karl-Anthony Towns continued his recent run of dominance, dropping 28 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks.

Andrew Wiggins poured in 28 points of his own (albeit on 9-of-23 shooting), while Jeff Teague (15 points, 11 assists) and Taj Gibson (12 points, 11 rebounds) gave Minnesota three double-doubles.

The Lakers made the unusual move of starting two centers — Zubac and JaVale McGee — to combat Minnesota’s Towns-Gibson frontcourt. But it had little success, falling behind by 14 points just four minutes into the game.

And the Lakers struggled from there, committing 21 turnovers and scoring only 10 fast-break points to the Wolves’ 21.

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