December 25, 2017, 8:19 pm
The Lakers (11-20) host the Timberwolves (20-13) for the Christmas Day finale on Monday night. Minnesota is looking to extend a three-game winning streak while Los Angeles has only won a total of three games in their last 13 contests.
Los Angeles will be without starting point guard Lonzo Ball for the first time in his NBA career as he recovers from a shoulder sprain he sustained during the team’s loss to Portland on Saturday. He is expected to be re-evaluated in a week. They may also be missing second leading scorer Brandon Ingram who is a game-time decision due to injuries to both of his quadriceps.
The Timberwolves are led by shooting guard Jimmy Butler, who is fresh off a huge performance where he accrued 32 points, six rebounds, three assists and a block on 10-of-19 shooting from the field and 12-of-13 from the free throw line. Butler is averaging 20.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.8 steals per contest.
Karl-Anthony Towns is second on the team in scoring, contributing 20.5 points to go with 11.7 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.9 steals and 1.4 blocks per game. In his matchup with the Lakers last April, Towns went off for his only 40-point and 20-rebound game of his career. Los Angeles needs to make him work a lot harder than they did in that matchup (17-of-22) if they hope to surprise the Timberwolves and provide their fans with one final Christmas present.
The Lakers will be relying heavily on rookie sensation and leading scorer Kyle Kuzma. He comes into the game averaging 17.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists on 50.1 percent shooting from the floor and 76.7 percent from the line.
Los Angeles is coming off a frustrating loss during which they blew a lead and a chance to defeat the Trail Blazers, who were without leading scorer Damian Lillard. After the game coach Luke Walton expressed frustration with his own team and perceived inconsistencies with the refereeing.
The Lakers will need to focus on themselves and produce a strong team effort if they are to overcome their missing players and the imposing challenge presented in this matchup.
- Los Angeles holds a significant edge on the glass over Minnesota at 46.8 (2nd) rebounds per game vs. 41.7 (21st).
- Free throw shooting has been a huge problem all year for the Lakers as they shoot 69.1 percent (30th) compared to 79.6 percent (8th) for the Timberwolves.
- Los Angeles is whistled for 22.3 (4th) fouls per game in stark contrast to Minnesota at 17.9 (28th). Walton complained vociferously after the last game so it will be interesting to see if his efforts affect the referees or his team’s approach to the game in any way.
- The Lakers are among the league leaders at 5.6 blocks (3rd) compared to only 3.9 (26th) for the Timberwolves.
- The Timberwolves are among the best in the league at limiting self-inflicted wounds, committing just 13.4 (3rd) turnovers a game vs. 16.7 (29th) for the Lakers.
Jordan Clarkson (PG)
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG)
Josh Hart (SF)
Kyle Kuzma (PF)
Andrew Bogut (C)
Jeff Teague (PG)
Jimmy Butler (SG)
Andrew Wiggins (SF)
Taj Gibson (PF)
Anthony-Karl Towns (C)
Lonzo Ball (shoulder) – OUT
Brandon Ingram (quadriceps) – OUT
Brook Lopez – (ankle) – OUT
Nemanja Bjelica (foot) – AVAILABLE
Time: 7:30 PM PST, 10:30 PM EST
Television: SN1/E/O/W, TNT
Radio: 710 AM ESPN, 1330 AM ESPN DEPORTES, 830 WCCO