Timberwolves Cruise Past Lakers, 124-104

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Karl-Anthony Towns scored 16 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter to help the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Los Angeles Lakers 124-104 on Wednesday night.

Anthony Edwards had 20 of his 27 points in the second quarter to lead the early surge by the Timberwolves, who never trailed on their way to their ninth victory in 10 games. They stayed within 1 1/2 games of Denver for sixth place in the Western Conference.

Minnesota had a 25-point lead whittled to four by the Los Angeles bench in the fourth quarter, but Towns — who had a franchise-record 60 points in the last game — helped the Timberwolves steel themselves and pull away from their reeling opponent.

When Russell Westbrook shot an airball on a 3-pointer with 3:58 left and Minnesota ahead 111-94, Towns ambled over to the baseline where the ball bounced away and, looking at the crowd, put his hand against his forehead as he mockingly pretended to try to find it.

LeBron James, playing through knee soreness, had just 19 points to lead the Lakers. They fell to 5-16 in their last 21 games on the first stop of this four-game trip. James had 111 points over the last three games.

Carmelo Anthony had 16 points for the Lakers, who fell a season-worst 11 games under the .500 mark at 29-40. James has not played on a team that far below even since his rookie year, when Cleveland finished the 2003-04 season at 35-47.

According to ESPN, this is also the first time in James’ career that his team has trailed by 25 or more points in three straight games. The Lakers are only one game ahead of 10th-place New Orleans, precariously close to the cut for the play-in tournament.

The Timberwolves built their lead to 25 points in the second quarter and took a 67-46 advantage into the locker room at halftime. The Lakers, who went 0 for 10 in the first quarter and 2 for 21 from 3-point range in the first half, finally hit a few from deep after the break.

Westbrook made one and froze his follow-through hand in place while posing behind the arc for emphasis, bringing the Lakers within 73-64 with 6:03 left in the third quarter. D.J. Augustin drained a 3 at the third-quarter buzzer and dropped in a layup early in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 89-85. Nearly every time the Lakers hit a big shot, though, they followed with a defensive lapse.