Preview: Timberwolves at Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers are still trying to find their stride as they enter Wednesday’s home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Inconsistency plagued the team during the first 10 games of the LeBron James era and the Lakers will attempt to rebound from Sunday’s debacle against the Toronto Raptors.
Los Angeles trailed 41-17 after the first quarter on Sunday en route to succumbing 121-107 to the Raptors in a contest in which Toronto was missing star forward Kawhi Leonard. “They just came out and just hit us right in the mouth,” James told reporters. “It’s very, very hard to make a game out of that when you’re trying to expend so much energy trying to get back into it.” Minnesota is experiencing its own issues with three straight losses to begin a five-game road trip and the near-daily drama circulating around disgruntled shooting guard Jimmy Butler. “I just hoop,” Butler, who has requested a trade, told reporters. “I play basketball. I go out there, and I try to win home or away. I think that’s my job. I’m not worried about nothing — none of that. (Reporters) continue to ask those questions, but it’s not going to change how I go about the game. It’s not going to change how I interact with guys in this locker room. We’ll be just fine.”
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Spectrum SportsNet (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (4-7): Guard Derrick Rose recorded 21 points in Monday’s 120-109 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers after missing most of the previous two games with an ankle injury. Rose has been surprisingly good this season while averaging 17.4 points, with his best outing being the career-high 50 he put up against the Utah Jazz on Oct. 31. Center Karl-Anthony Towns recovered from a slow start to post four double-doubles in the past five games and he is averaging 21.8 points and 12 rebounds during the stretch.
ABOUT THE LAKERS (4-6): Los Angeles has its own bouts of drama percolating as coach Luke Walton is coming under fire during the early stages of James’ tenure. Management usually understands patience is required to make so many new moving parts fit but president of basketball operations Magic Johnson’s proclamation that Walton’s job is safe included this disclaimer: “Unless something drastic happen.” The defense has been a huge problem — the Lakers allowed over 120 points in five of their six losses and stand 27th in scoring defense (120 per game) while the offense ranks third at 118.9.
1. Butler scored 32 points as the Timberwolves prevailed 124-120 on Oct. 29 for their fifth consecutive win over the Lakers.
2. Minnesota PG Jeff Teague (knee) is expected to miss his fifth straight game.
3. Los Angeles backup G Josh Hart is just 13-of-39 shooting over the past six contests.