February 15, 2018, 6:15 pm
The Lakers (23-33) head to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves (35-25) on Thursday for the final NBA game before the All-Star break. The Lakers had been hot, winning 12-of-16 before a recent skid that has them losing two contests in a row, while playing terrible defense.
As coach Luke Walton succinctly put it:
“We’ve got to get our mojo back. We somehow lost it quickly. The last two games, offensively, we’ve been fine. We’re just not playing any defense. We’ve had breakdowns from the 3-point line, our 3-point defense, switching, simple pin-downs, simple parts of the game defensively, we’ve just stopped executing. It’s why we’ve made it such a big point of what we want to do this year. It doesn’t matter how good your offense is if you’re not going to play defense.”
His description is quite apt; the Lakers have given up 134.5 points per game in their last two contests, leading their defensive rating to plummet from ninth on the season to 13th, with a rating of 105.4 points allowed per 100 possessions. In the last contest (a questionable description), the Lakers gave up a season-high 139 points to the New Orleans Pelicans, a team that is still acclimating to the loss of All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins.
Their frustration was apparent on the court Wednesday with both new acquisition Isaiah Thomas and coach Walton being ejected. Thomas was goaded into his dismissal by another former Celtic point guard Rajon Rondo, who according to Thomas, was upset regarding a tribute the Celtics wanted to show in Thomas’ favor. Regardless of the cause, it appeared that Rondo had extracurricular activities on the mind and the referees chose to eject both players rather than the instigating party. That questionable decision, as well as a few other calls in the Pelicans’ favor, was the reason that Walton eventually earned his ejection. Perhaps he has also trying to find a different way to motivate his team into exerting more effort on the defensive end — it did not succeed.
The Timberwolves have proven to be a tough matchup for the Lakers this season, in particular due to their blossoming big man Karl-Anthony Towns. For the season he is averaging he is averaging 20.4 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.5 3-pointers per game while shooting 55.0 percent from the field and 85.5 percent from the line. As his stats portend, he is an extremely versatile and skilled player — the Lakers truly do not have a player that matches up with his size and athleticism.
The second difficult matchup for Los Angeles is wing Jimmy Butler, a two-way player who can shut down three positions, make shots and create for his teammates. He is contributing 22.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game while shooting 47.9 percent from the field and 86.4 percent from the line.
- One element of their defense that the Lakers must improve is defending down low where they now allow 49.0 points in the paint per game (29th). In the last contest they allowed an eye-popping 62 points in the paint.
- The Lakers turned the ball over 20 times in the last game, contributing to their 18.9 points per game off turnovers (29th). Los Angeles must take care of the ball as their defense is bad enough without allowing their opponents easy buckets off of careless errors.
- Los Angeles turns the ball over 16.0 times per game (29th) compared to the Timberwolves who only turn the ball over 12.6 times per game (2nd).
- The key to victory for the Lakers is defense. In their wins they have a defensive rating of 97.3 points per 100 possessions (3rd). In their losses they allow 111.0 points per 100 possessions (13th).
- The Timberwolves are a much better team at converting from the free throw line as they knock down 80.0 percent from the line (4th) vs. Los Angeles who only makes 69.6 percent (30th).
Projected Starting Rosters
Brandon Ingram (PG)
Josh Hart (SG)
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SF)
Julius Randle (PF)
Brook Lopez (C)
Jeff Teague (PG)
Jimmy Butler (SG)
Andrew Wiggins (SF)
Taj Gibson (PF)
Karl-Anthony Towns (C)
Lonzo Ball (knee/MCL) – OUT
No Injured Players
Time: 6:00 PM PST, 9:00 PM EST
Television: TNT, SPECSN/SPECD, NBA TV CANADA, TNT-SAP,
Radio: 830 WCCO, 710 AM ESPN, 1330 AM ESPN DEPORTES
August 25, 2019, 6:32 pmJeff TeaguePG, Minnesota Timberwolves
Jeff Teague (left ankle) is not expected to have any restrictions for training camp.
Teague had a left ankle debridement procedure in April to help alleviate inflammation. Teague's ankles have given him trouble throughout his career and he only played 42 games last season. With a clean bill of health Teague will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing season.
Source: Chris Hine of the Star Tribune
August 24, 2019, 11:09 pmDerrick WhitePG, San Antonio Spurs
Derrick White has reportedly passed the first concussion test after taking a nasty fall in Team USA's tuneup game vs. the Australian Boomers on Saturday.
This is good news. White has worked hard for his Team USA roster spot and should provide some guard depth for them once he clears concussion protocols. He was an eye-opener last season and should still hold some fantasy value despite the return of a now-healthy Dejounte Murray.
Source: Tom Orsborn on Twitter
August 24, 2019, 10:27 amKyle KuzmaPF, Los Angeles Lakers
Kyle Kuzma (sore left ankle) will not take part in the FIBA World Cup as Team USA announces its final roster.
Kuzma sat out Team USA's final tuneup against Australia on Saturday as Marc Stein reports that he is flying back to Los Angeles to get treatment. We should still expect him to be ready for training and congrats to Mason Plumlee for making the team as many speculated that he would be the final cut.
Source: Marc Stein on Twitter
August 24, 2019, 8:58 amKemba WalkerPG, Boston Celtics
Kemba Walker scored 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting with four rebounds with two assists as USA Basketball had it's 78-game winning streak in tournament and exhibition games snapped on Saturday.
Walker continues to assert himself as the team's best player but USA losing to Australia was the much bigger story in this one. Harrison Barnes also played well as he chipped in 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting to go with six rebounds. USA will take on Canada on Monday in their last exhibition before taking on the Czech Republic in the first official match of the tournament on September 1.
August 24, 2019, 8:44 amDerrick WhitePG, San Antonio Spurs
Derrick White left Saturday’s game after tripping and hitting his head on the floor.
White left without help but there is no word yet on whether he is dealing with a concussion. He finished with eight points, hitting 6-of-7 three throws in nine minutes with another update sure to come. The third-year guard put up top-125 per-game value, playing 25.8 minutes in his second season. Even with the return of Dejounte Murray, White should still be worth a roster spot in most standard leagues.
Source: Jeff Garcia on Twitter
August 24, 2019, 8:42 amMarcus SmartPG, Boston Celtics
Marcus Smart, sidelined for almost three weeks with calf tightness, returned to action on Saturday as USA lost to Australia in their exhibition.
Smart only played nine minutes in this one but still managed to score 7 points with three assists days after being named one of the team’s co-captains. Coming off an NBA All-Defensive First Team selection, he produced top-100 per game fantasy value as it seems he may have finally fixed his shot after shooting under 40 percent from the field in his first four seasons. He also produced a career-high in both steals and triples with 1.8 and 1.6 respectively as his career seems to be on the up and up.
August 24, 2019, 8:39 amPatty MillsPG, San Antonio Spurs
Patty Mills went off in the fourth quarter and finished with 30 points as Australia beat USA 98-94.
Although it was only an exhibition, it was still a huge moment for Mills and the Australian team in front of a huge crowd as they handed the US team their first loss since 2006. Mills was serenaded with MVP chants as Joe Ingles also played well with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting with four rebounds and seven assists while Andrew Bogut came off the bench for 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists in 20 minutes, shooting 7-of-8 from the field.
August 24, 2019, 12:37 amKyle KuzmaPF, Los Angeles Lakers
Kyle Kuzma is out for Team USA's tuneup up game vs. Australia with a sore left ankle.
Kuzma is being held out of this one for precautionary reasons. There's clearly no need for USA Basketball to risk him further injuring the sore ankle. This does not sound like a serious injury and should not affect his fantasy ADP on draft day.
Source: USA Basketball on Twitter
August 23, 2019, 6:02 pmDwight HowardC, Memphis Grizzlies
Dwight Howard has agreed with the Grizzlies on a buyout, and will sign a non-guaranteed contract with the Lakers.
The Lakers are giving Howard an opportunity to be fantasy relevant. When given minutes, Dwight can produce double-doubles with the best of them, but he has been changing teams for years now. He will be worth a gamble at the end of your draft if camp with the Lakers goes well, but this is a non-guaranteed deal, and he only played nine games last season.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
August 23, 2019, 2:18 pmMarcus DerricksonPF, Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks signed Marcus Derrickson to an Exhibit 10 contract on Friday.
It looks like Derrickson will be a G-League option for the Hawks, so there's nothing to see here. At one point he was competing for the last roster spot on the team. We don't need to keep of track of every computer-generated player.
Source: Chris Vivlamore on Twitter