The Lakers are finally coming back home after going 3-0 against the Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, and Portland Trail Blazers on their recent road trip. Many Lakers skeptics had pointed out that the team had an easy schedule to start the season. That was fair, but the Lakers could also only play who was in front of them, and they had taken care of business thus far. That trend continued with this three-game road trip against teams with playoff hopes, which should be enough to keep those skeptics quiet.
Over the course of the trip, the Lakers beat their opponents by an average of 19 points, and held their opponents to 99.3 points per 100 possessions. They also shot 42.3% on their three-pointers, an effort that was led by three players:
- Rajon Rondo: 6 of 7 (85.7%)
- Kyle Kuzma: 6 of 11 (54.5%)
- Troy Daniels: 6 of 11 (54.5)
Now the Lakers are coming back home to face the Minnesota Timberwolves, who have been struggling as of late. They’ve lost three games in a row, and have lost five of their last seven games. They’re also coming off a tough loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who won in overtime with the help of Chris Paul’s late-game snitching.
Despite those struggles, Karl-Anthony Towns has had an amazing season for the Timberwolves. He’s averaging 26.2 points per game on 51.2% shooting from the field and 43.4% from three. He’s also grabbing 11.9 rebounds per game, 2.6 of which have been offensive rebounds.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Lakers defend him in tonight’s game. Towns starts at center for the Wolves, with Robert Covington playing power forward. Ideally, you’d want Anthony Davis to defend Towns, as Davis has held opposing players to 32.4% shooting so far this season, and in three total game last season, Davis held Towns to 9-25 shooting (36%) and forced 6 turnovers. In four total games against the Lakers last season, Towns went 11-17 from the field.
However, putting Davis on Towns would mean that JaVale McGee would guard Covington, which isn’t an ideal matchup, especially given that McGee has allowed opponents to shoot 37% from three this season.
We’ll see what Frank Vogel decides to do there, and it’s also worth noting that the Lakers have played down to their competition several times, but yesterday’s game against Portland was a good step in the right direction. We’ll see if the Lakers can keep making progress tonight.
Notes and Updates
- Avery Bradley was declared out for tonight’s game, but he’s been cleared for contact and is day-to-day moving forward. He also made some progress towards a return on Sunday.
Frank Vogel said that Avery Bradley did some 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 work today. He's still out tonight, but Frank Vogel said "if things progress, we're hoping to have him back on this trip at some point."— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) December 9, 2019
- Rajon Rondo will not play against the Wolves, as his hamstring is still sore and Frank Vogel says he wants to be cautious with Rondo’s health.
- The Lakers chemistry is at an all time high, and it’s really shown on the court. “We all genuinely love being around each other, and this is a fun environment,” Quinn Cook said. “It’s easy to go out there and fight for your brothers every night.”
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said that the support his teammates gave him really helped him out of his early season slump. “I’ve got real brothers in the locker room,” Caldwell-Pope said.
Today’s game between the Lakers and Timberwolves will tip off at 6:30 p.m. PST in Staples Center, and be televised locally on Spectrum SportsNet.