The Los Angeles Lakers didn’t play a whole lot of defense on Tuesday night as they finished out their first back-to-back of the second half of their schedule, but against the worst team in the NBA it didn’t matter, as LeBron James masterfully directed a Lakers attack that picked apart a hapless Minnesota Timberwolves defense in a 137-121 win.
James finished with 25 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists for his second triple-double in a row and 99th of his career. He was also one of the few Lakers to actually make some plays on defense this game, including a highlight block of Jake Layman.
LeBron protects the rim at Staples Center!— NBA (@NBA) March 17, 2021
19 PTS, 9 REB, 7 AST for LBJ as we go to the 4th on League Pass. pic.twitter.com/Y9JLIkxciu
At some point, we’re going to have to have a conversation about how LeBron is not just playing great defense for a player in Year 18. He’s playing some of the best defense of anyone in the NBA, period.
- He leads the NBA in defensive win shares— Ry (@JustRyCole) March 16, 2021
- He’s playing on the best defensive team in the NBA
- Has better advanved defensive #’s than Simmons, Gobert
- Lakers have had the 3rd best defense during AD’s absence
The rest of the story was mostly the same recipe as usual lately in this one. Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma once again gave the Lakers the scoring punch they needed with the reserve units, combining for 41 points off the pine. Dennis Schröder (16 points, 7 assists) was the secondary playmaker the Lakers needed as Anthony Davis continues to be sidelined, and Talen Horton-Tucker (16 points) gave the purple and gold one more facilitator in the second unit with his second game in a row of adept pick-and-roll play in addition to providing his signature scoring around the rim.
Even Wesley Matthews (6 points, 2-5 shooting from three) hit his first two threes! It was a good night in L.A.
All of it resulted in the Lakers’ third win in a row, and they’re still undefeated (3-0) since returning from their much-needed All-Star break. The team is now 27-13, and will have Wednesday off before hosting LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday.