Davis, Lakers surge past Timberwolves
With the loss, Minnesota drops below Los Angeles in the Western Conference standings
MINNEAPOLIS — Everything was rolling for Minnesota in the third quarter Friday at Target Center.
Minnesota led the Lakers by double-digits as it controlled the paint and the entire way the game was being played.
Then Los Angeles changed the terms of the contest. The Lakers cranked up their defensive intensity and put the Wolves in a blender in the process. Suddenly, Minnesota couldn’t play anything that slightly resembled offense. The Lakers’ aggressiveness translated to their offense, as well, and the game was turned on its head.
Los Angeles utilized a 24-2 run to transform a 12-point deficit into a 10-point advantage. That run keyed Los Angeles’ 123-111 victory in front of a sold-out Target Center crowd.
It all started with an apparent Anthony Davis ankle injury, which left the star big on the ground under the Wolves’ basket. Minnesota played 5-on-4 basketball for the next few possessions — a period in which it was outscored 4-0. Davis never subbed out of the game. Minnesota never regained momentum.
With the win, the Lakers (39-38) moved past Minnesota (39-39) in the standings. The Wolves now sit in ninth place in the Western Conference. Should they finish there, they would need to win two play-in contests just to reach the playoffs.
The Wolves will almost certainly have to split their final four games — at worst — to avoid such a fate. And an undefeated finish over that stretch may not be enough to dodge the play-in all together.
They will not achieve any of that with the basketball they played over the final 18 minutes Friday. When punched in the mouth, Minnesota didn’t just blink — it folded. The Wolves resorted to an offense where they didn’t move and simply jacked up one triple after another.
On the other end, Davis went inside and earned one tough bucket after another. And whenever the Lakers did miss, they often nabbed the offensive rebound. Davis finished with 38 points and 17 rebounds. He dominated any and all minutes in which Rudy Gobert was not on the floor, which included a stretch in the fourth frame after Gobert limped off the floor with an apparent leg injury. Gobert did later return to action.
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