February 16, 2018, 4:01 am
The Lakers led for the bulk of the game on Thursday, before getting thoroughly outplayed in the fourth quarter, falling to the Timberwolves 119-111.
Los Angeles held an 88-76 lead with two minutes in the third quarter before letting Minnesota finish the period on an 8-3 run to cut the lead to 91-84 heading into the fourth. The Timberwolves would build on the momentum established in that run to go on a 14-6 burst to take an early lead. The fourth really belonged to them as they outscored the Lakers 35-20 in the final frame to send the Lakers home reeling.
Jimmy Butler was acquired from the Bulls this offseason to take Minnesota to the next level; he accomplished just that on Thursday, entering the game in the fourth with a six-point deficit and catapulting the Timberwolves to victory, his team outscoring the Lakers by 14 points in the fourth. He entered the final frame with 15 points, three rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and a minus-2 rating. He ended up finishing the game with 24 points, five rebounds, four assists, one steal, three blocks and a plus-12 rating. He struggled from the field making only 7-of-20 from the field, 0-of-7 from 3-point line but hitting 10-of-11 from the free throw stripe. He appeared to will his team to victory down the stretch.
The Lakers did a fairly good job of corralling the Timberwolves other All-Star, Karl-Anthony Towns. KAT, as he is referred to, finished with 10 points, 19 rebounds, four assists and two blocks but made only 2-of-9 from the field, well below his season shooting percentage and scoring average.
In his stead, Taj Gibson scored a career-high 28 points and collected seven rebounds, one steal, two blocks and a game-high plus-13 rating while hitting 11-of-16 from the field and 6-of-6 from the line.
The Wolves other major offseason acquisition, Jeff Teague, chipped in 20 points, six assists, three rebounds and one block on efficient shooting, hitting 6-of-9 from the field, 2-of-3 from 3-point range and 6-of-7 from the free throw stripe.
The Lakers had several solid efforts that helped keep them ahead for three quarters, along with a few lackluster efforts that served to undermine their overall performance and contributed to the loss.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope tallied 17 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, two steals and a plus-2 rating (only Laker starter with a positive rating) while knocking down 6-of-9 from the field and 3-of-6 from 3-point range.
There was an Ivica Zubac sighting on Thursday as the young center contributed 19 points, 11 rebounds and a plus-5 rating while making a perfect 8-of-8 from the field.
Julius Randle continued his strong play as a starter with 23 points, nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block on 8-of-15 from the field and 7-of-9 from the free throw line.
Kyle Kuzma started the game 3-of-5 in the first quarter for eight points but did not make another shot, going 0-of-7 from the floor the rest of the way to finish with eight points and two rebounds.
Isaiah Thomas didn’t post an appealing stat line tonight, accumulating seven points, five assists, five turnovers and a minus-8 rating while converting only 3-of-15 from the field and missing all five of his 3-point attempts; Jamal Crawford (15 points on 6-of-11 shooting) got the better of him on the other end too. However, Thomas managed the tempo of the game well for the Lakers, and this is a major positive that has been overlooked. Getting accustomed to a new team is no easy task for any player, but it’s especially difficult for a point guard who has to learn all the new players around them. Thomas, while he hasn’t performed well on the stat sheet, has showed promise in the other intangible areas of the game and that could help lead to some success post-All-Star break.
He is a great player who was a legitimate MVP candidate last season — he just needs time to continue to recover from last year’s hip injury as well as get himself into basketball shape. The Lakers will use the All-Star break to sort out some of the schematic issues created by their deadline deal. In the interim, Thomas will work in the gym to works on his game-shape and health. He will also be honored by having his jersey retired by his college team, the Washington Huskies.
Key Stats and Observations
- The two teams had identical rebounding stats in this contest with both teams grabbing 46 total rebounds, 11 offensive rebounds and 35 defensive rebounds.
- The Lakers were badly hurt in the free throw department as they converted only 18-of-26 free throws (69.2 percent) vs. 29-of-31 (93.5 percent) for the Timberwolves. One key to the game was the Lakers inability to play defense without fouling in the fourth quarter as Minnesota went to the line 15 times, making 14 attempts.
- Los Angeles did a good job defending the 3-point line through three quarters, holding the Timberwolves to 3-of-17 (17.6 percent). Minnesota heated up in the final period, knocking down 3-of-7 good for 42.8 percent. Los Angeles struggled from deep, making only 7-of-31 (22.6 percent) for the game.
- The Lakers extended their league-leading totals in scoring in the paint with 62 points on Thursday. Unfortunately, they also continued their trend of allowing their opponents to do so as well, conceding 50 key points to the Timberwolves.
- Minnesota accrued 10 blocks compared to only four for the Lakers. Butler punctuated the Timberwolves victory with two stellar blocks on one possession late in the fourth quarter — a block on a Randle dunk attempt and then following it up by swatting a Thomas finger roll.
The Lakers will limp into the All-Star break in need of some much-needed R & R — recovery and resuscitation.
For Los Angeles, that will come in the form of starting point guard Lonzo Ball, who is expected to return from an extended absence due to a sprained medial collateral ligament in his knee. The Lakers have badly missed his defense at the point guard position, his ability to finish an offensive possession, as well as his past-first mentality that helps ignites the ball movement that has been sorely lacking in his absence.
The Lakers will open the season’s final 25 games by hosting the Dallas Mavericks on Friday February 23. The last time the two teams met, Dallas defeated Los Angeles 130-123 in a game that destroyed the Lakers’ momentum and defensive identity. Los Angeles went from winning 12-of-16 to a three-game losing streak.
One person responsible for the Lakers’ demise was NBA walking legend Dirk Nowtizki, who scored 22 points with four rebounds on an efficient 8-of-11 shooting from the field and 4-of-4 from 3-point range.
Should Ball return, fans will be treated to a matchup of high pedigree point guards as he faces off with No. 9 overall pick Dennis Smith Jr.
February 26, 2020, 4:55 pmWilson ChandlerF, Brooklyn Nets
Wilson Chandler has been ruled out for Wednesday’s game vs. the Wizards due to personal reasons.
Chandler has averaged 21.3 minutes per game since returning from a 25-game suspension to start the season. He is only worth a roster spot in 18-team leagues or deeper at this time. Taurean Prince and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot will likely see additional minutes with Chandler out.
Source: Chris Milholen on Twitter
February 26, 2020, 4:41 pmJimmy ButlerSG, Miami Heat
Jimmy Butler (personal reasons) will make his return to action for Wednesday’s tilt vs. the Wolves.
Butler will return after a two-game absence and he should be locked in across formats as he has proven to be a 2nd/1st round talent in 8/9-cat formats. Kendrick Nunn, Goran Dragić and Jae Crowder will lose some value with Butler’s return to the lineup.
Source: Jon Krawczynski on Twitter
February 26, 2020, 4:37 pmMike ConleyPG, Utah Jazz
The Athletic is reporting that Mike Conley will remain in the starting lineup for Wednesday's game vs. the Celtics while Joe Ingles will head to the bench.
It was previously reported that Royce O'Neale would be replacing Mike Conley in the starting lineup on Wednesday but it appears as if Conley is not being sent to the bench unit. Instead, the Jazz are choosing to have Joe Ingles come off the bench. The Jazz are looking to shake things up after losing three straight and they are definitely a team worth watching from a fantasy perspective. Continue to monitor this situation to see how the rotations shake out going forward.
Source: Tony Jones on Twitter
February 26, 2020, 4:30 pmStephen CurryPG, Golden State Warriors
Head coach Steve Kerr told Nick Friedell of ESPN that he would like to get Stephen Curry (left hand fracture) more scrimmage time and that "there is a chance" that he will not play against the Wizards on Sunday.
It was reported on Tuesday that Curry would make his return to the court on Sunday. Curry should be stashed across formats at this point in the hopes that he can help teams in head-to-head formats in their playoffs. Continue to monitor as we will learn more over the coming days. For now, Curry can be considered somewhere between probable and questionable for Sunday's contest.
Source: Nick Friedell on Twitter
February 26, 2020, 4:18 pmDraymond GreenPF, Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green (right pelvic contusion) scrimmaged with the team on Wednesday and is officially listed as probable ahead of Thursday's matchup vs. the Lakers.
It was previously reported that Green is expected to play in Thursday's game so the probable tag reaffirms the initial report. Ky Bowman, Eric Paschall and Juan Toscano-Anderson will all lose minutes when Green returns to the court.
Source: Anthony Slater on Twitter
February 26, 2020, 3:38 pmKemba WalkerPG, Boston Celtics
Kemba Walker will not play against the Jazz on Wednesday as he continues to nurse a sore left knee.
Walker will now miss his fourth consecutive game since playing in the All-Star game. In his absence, Brad Wanamaker and Romeo Langford have seen additional opportunity handling the ball but neither are standard league streamers. Marcus Smart and the rest of the starters will benefit the most while Kemba is sidelined. Walker's next opportunity to play will be on Saturday vs. the Rockets.
Source: Jay King on Twitter
February 26, 2020, 3:13 pmNickeil Alexander-WalkerSG, New Orleans Pelicans
Nickeil Alexander-Walker has been assigned to the Erie Bayhawks of the G League on Wednesday.
Alexander-Walker hasn't been in the rotation for the Pelicans of late, so he's an afterthought in fantasy circles.
Source: New Orleans Pelicans on Twitter
February 26, 2020, 3:09 pmRoyce O'NealeSF, Utah Jazz
Royce O'Neale will enter the starting lineup on Wednesday against the Celtics.
It sounds like this will be the new normal for the Jazz going forward. Mike Conley will slide to the bench but should still play a prominent role. O'Neale will be a nice source of steals with more minutes coming, but we'll have to see if the offense follows. Joe Ingles could see an uptick in assists as part of this new lineup configuration.
Source: The Athletic
February 26, 2020, 3:07 pmMike ConleyPG, Utah Jazz
Mike Conley is expected to come off the bench starting on Wednesday against the Celtics.
He'll be replaced in the starting lineup by Royce O'Neale. Conley will still play significant minutes, but he has disappointed this season while O'Neale is renowned for his defense.
Source: The Athletic
February 26, 2020, 2:59 pmDamian LillardPG, Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard (right groin strain) will not travel with the Blazers to face the Pacers on Thursday.
This isn't a major surprise, as he was already expected to miss the next couple of games. However, he could rejoin the team later on the road trip. C.J. McCollum owners should have some big numbers on the way while Lillard is out.
Source: Casey Holdahl on Twitter