It’s been a long, exhausting road trip for the Los Angeles Lakers, and the strenuous trip continues Wednesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
They have already played five games in seven nights and have three games coming up in four nights.
The Lakers and Timberwolves played each other on opening night at STAPLES Center, and it was a highly entertaining finish. Going up by as many as 16, the Lakers lost the lead and ended up losing 112-111 after Lou Williams was unable to convert on a four-foot floater.
Ricky Rubio displayed a much improved jumper that game, scoring 28 points on 10 of 17 shooting to go along with 14 assists. Los Angeles was led by Kobe Bryant’s 24 points.
Minnesota’s ability to take care of the ball in that game ultimately helped them secure the win. They only committed eight turnovers and allowed just six points off those miscues.
However in their last game against the Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota committed many costly turnovers, none bigger than a bad pass by Zach LaVine with 24 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The Timberwolves had 18 turnovers Monday night against the Clippers which led to 20 points on the other end.
Meanwhile, the Lakers were in action against the Toronto Raptors on the same night where Kobe Bryant had the most efficient game of the season. He shot 50 percent from the field for the first time this year and put in a team-high 21 points.
“Really? 50%? Aw, man. Finally!” Bryant joked of his good shooting night.
That’s the type of efficiency the Lakers will sorely need from Bryant to boost their chances of winning in Minnesota.
But aside from Bryant’s efficient night, there were other major storylines for the Lakers. Coach Byron Scott opted to play D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle off the bench, adding Williams and rookie Larry Nance to the starting lineup.
This lineup change was completely mysterious and unexpected, but it did not affect Randle’s game, as the 21-year-old recorded a double-double with 15 points and 11 assists in 21 minutes. Russell had nine points, three rebounds, and two assists in his 21 minutes.
“There’s just more ball movement. No disrespect to Kobe, but you know you have more opportunity because of who he is,” Russell said after the game, feeling that he had more freedom with the second unit.
Coach Scott will continue to bring Randle and Russell off the bench for the next five to 10 games to see how it works out for the team.
Last season, the Lakers won the season series against the Wolves, 3-1, but are off to a lousy start against Minnesota this season.
Tip-off of Timberwolves versus Lakers will be at 8 pm EST at Target Center.