Lakers Lose Close Battle to Timberwolves in Chaotic Closing Seconds

Lakers Lose Close Battle to Timberwolves in Chaotic Closing Seconds

Fresh off a critical defensive stop, his team down by three and with just seconds left on the clock in the 4th quarter, LeBron James raced up the court, received an outlet pass, and after running through the three-point line, slowed his momentum enough to step back to the arc, and get off what looked to be a game tying shot.

The ball laced through the net with 2.3 seconds on the clock, but the excitement LeBron and the team felt in the immediate aftermath was quickly muted when the ruling on the court determined LeBron was not fully behind the line, leaving the made shot worth two points -- with the referee crew signaling they would review the call.

After a long review, however, the ruling on the court stood and the Lakers still trailed by two -- somewhat controversially after an image on a courtside monitor showed an angle of LeBron's foot that was ever-so-slightly behind the line as he was going into his shooting motion.

Other angles were not as clear, and, thus, the original call stood. And so, the game went on with the Lakers down by one on the scoreboard.

After Minnesota inbounded and the Lakers fouled to extend the game, the Wolves split their free throws, setting up one last chance for the Lakers to tie or even win the game. LeBron received the inbounds, but was quickly double teamed and was unable to get a shot off. The result was a hard-fought 108-106 defeat that the Lakers can hold their heads high after for the way they competed, but one that is extremely frustrating for how it all ended.

Despite those closing seconds, the game came down to more than that one call and while Lakers played well enough to win, so did Minnesota. Their overall shooting from the field in comparison to the Lakers (50% from the Wolves to 42% for the Lakers) and their superior shot making from behind the arc (+15 points on made threes) were key statistics that helped them get this victory.

On the Lakers end, they got another fantastic performance from Anthony Davis, who led the team with 33 points (12-of-17 shooting), 17 rebounds, eight assists, four steals, and two blocks -- which were also game-high numbers in every category except blocks (Anthony Edwards had three). Davis was brilliant throughout the contest, proving too much to handle for his individual defender offensively and a menace to the Wolves defensively with his efforts on the ball when the Lakers were switching and at the basket when they played more of their traditional coverages.

Also tremendous was LeBron, who joined Davis as the only other Laker who scored in double figures with 26 points on 10-of-21 shooting to go with three rebounds, six assists, and three steals. James, who came into the game questionable with a non-COVID illness, did not have his normal wind, but pushed through to score important baskets down the stretch with 10 of his points coming in the 4th quarter.

But outside of those two, the Lakers just did not get enough production from the rest of the team to get them over the hump. The team's entire bench scored 26 points on 7-of-27 shooting, which was nearly equaled by Naz Reid's 21 points alone off the Wolves' bench, to say nothing of the secondary production they got from three other players scoring in double-figures, including Edwards 31 points to lead them.

And, so, the Lakers just did not have enough in this one. And they now head into New Orleans on Sunday night on the 2nd night of a back-to-back to close out 2023 in a matchup with the Pelicans.