Tyson Chandler’s homecoming resulted in a win as the Los Angeles Lakers held on to a late lead against the Minnesota Timberwolves, who remain winless on the road.
Chandler finished with 2 points and 9 rebounds, a stat line that belies how great he looked in his first minutes as a Laker. One thing that really stuck out while he was on the court were the screens he was setting. It’s an incredibly underrated skill that the Lakers have not been very good (read: even remotely decent) at this season. He also helped on the glass, including several key late tip outs to help the Lakers maintain possession and hold onto their lead.
With about half a minute left, Chandler helped clinch the game both with huge extra possessions created on one end and then a huge contest on a Derrick Rose three that would have given Minnesota the lead.
Chandler’s presence, however, didn’t do much to help the Lakers’ defense, though it should be pointed out that the Wolves hurt L.A. in ways Chandler can’t really affect. Minnesota shot an astounding 50 percent from three (20-40). The Lakers, to their own credit, shot 44 percent from downtown.
The game was closely contested throughout, with Jimmy Butler once again
utilizing the Lakers to showcase himself for teams considering trading for him hurting the Lakers with yet another outlier shooting game from outside. He finished with 24 points (not out of the ordinary) on 5-8 shooting from three. You watching, Daryl Morey?
Speaking of insane shooting nights, Derrick Rose went 7-9 from deep with a few of those coming off the dribble. There’s just nothing you can do as a defense when the opposing team does stuff like that.
Seeing as it was yet another close game down the stretch (thanks, Lakers. Signed, someone who writes these damn recaps), a lot of the focus in analyzing the game will be both the lineups Walton closed with and the way those lineups looked on both sides of the floor. Lonzo Ball, for example, played only 21 minutes as Walton opted for Rajon Rondo down the stretch.
One thing that was always going to be interesting to watch after meeting-gate was going to be how Walton would handle these situations as a result of his conversation with Magic Johnson. In this case, Walton went with the veteran point guard, though it should be pointed out that Ball was not particularly effective while he was on the court.
The Lakers will have another two-day break and then take on the Sacramento Kings on Saturday.