MINNEAPOLIS – – The Los Angeles Lakers reinforced their rotation during the shortened off-season, realizing that defending their NBA title in the midst of the ongoing pandemic would require great depth.
Anthony Davis’ absence will give the improved squad an extensive test.
LeBron James had 30 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists and Dennis Schröder scored 24 points, helping the Lakers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 112- 104 on Tuesday night.
“We don’t expect a person to try to increase the productivity of AD. Nobody will be able to do that. It just brings a lot to the table. But we can all do more, ”said James.
Montrezl Harrell threw 17 points for the Lakers, who broke a seven-game losing streak in Minnesota with their first win at the Target Center since March 25, 2015. The energy and production provided by the four new players in the 2020-21 squad – Schröder and Marc Gasol with the starters and Harrell and Wes Matthews off the bench – it was palpable.
“We are going to attack in this series of games and be confident in what we have on this list, embrace the challenge of playing without AD. Every guy has to work hard, ”said coach Frank Vogel.
Minnesota rookie Anthony Edwards set his career record with 28 points. The Lakers, on the other hand, played a good defense in the first of several games without Davis, the seven-time All-Star that was shelved due to an Achilles tendon injury. He worsened the situation with a defeat in Denver on Sunday, which ended the Lakers’ seven-game winning streak.
The Lakers were far from sharp – James had four of his five turns in the first quarter – but efficient enough in attack to be victorious over the team with the worst league history.
“You have to do almost everything right to come out with a win against them,” said Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders.
Ricky Rubio and Jordan McLaughlin each scored 13 points for the Timberwolves, dividing their time as a point guard in the continued absence of D’Angelo Russell, who will lose the next four to six weeks after surgery on his left knee.
Karl-Anthony Towns scored 15 points for the Timberwolves, who were defeated 17-5 at the start of the fourth period after a vigorous effort in the first three periods. Towns didn’t even have a chance in the room, with Edwards taking over.
“I know that Ant was in charge, but I am the point guard and I need to know who to send the ball to,” said Rubio.
Harrell’s defense in Towns also had something to do with it, despite giving in ten centimeters.
“I really don’t believe in these minor things, because at the end of the day, if you believed that, man, the elephant would be the king of the jungle,” said Harrell.
Edwards, the first general choice in the draft, hit his fourth and fifth 3 points in the game to cut the lead to 105-100 with 3:28 to the end. Edwards was called on for a foul on James, knocking the league’s four-time MVP and nullifying a runner on the track with 2:57 left, and the Timberwolves never came any closer.
“He’s playing at a great level and we’re trying to build confidence in him and let him know that we believe in him,” said Towns.
DO NOT GO
The Lakers won their first game in Los Angeles by 36 points on December 27, when Towns was eliminated with a dislocated wrist. Davis’s absence in this one meant yet another lost clash between two of the NBA’s best bigwigs – and Kentucky’s first general draft, three years apart. The Lakers’ visit to Minnesota last season was eliminated by the pandemic.
Lakers: Davis is unlikely to return before the All-Star break, said Vogel. The cautious approach means that Davis, whose official diagnosis is a strain on his right calf, would lose at least eight more games. … Gasol played 30 minutes, the best of the season.
Timberwolves: Jarrett Culver, who lost his 12th consecutive game with a sprained left ankle, was upgraded to court activity. The team said he could return to action at the end of next week. … Malik Beasley had 11 points out of 4 out of 15 shots, after averaging 25 points in his last four games.
Lakers: Return to Los Angeles to face Brooklyn on Thursday.
Timberwolves: Host Indiana on Wednesday.
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