The Lakers lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves 111-102 on Friday. Anthony Davis was a late scratch due to back soreness, and Russell Westbrook made his return from injury off the bench. He had 18 points and 8 rebounds in the loss.
Before the cruel reality of losing another game became abundantly clear for Laker Nation, there was hope. Russell Westbrook came in as a reserve, scoring 10 points in the first half, Austin Reaves was making beautiful passes, and the Lakers were shooting 35% from three and winning the rebounding battle 28-24 at the half.
That was by far the best half of the season for Russell Westbrook. He hasn’t looked this explosive all year. Coming off the bench seems to suit him.— Sam Quinn (@SamQuinnCBS) October 29, 2022
The Lakers have yet to outscore an opponent in the third quarter, and Friday night was no different. It was an improvement, with the Timberwolves outscoring the Lakers by a mere three points, but they needed to win this quarter to have a chance to close out Minnesota and were unable to do so. The positive three-point shooting from the first half regressed as the averages dipped to 28.6 from beyond the arch.
In the fourth, reality finally came knocking. Karl Anthony was hitting threes, Anthony Edwards made multiple baskets consecutively, and Gobert grabbed the rebounds and got the putbacks when it mattered. Midway through the quarter, the deficit ballooned to double digits. The Lakers could have folded right then and there, but like Mike McDermott, in Rounders, they kept hanging around. Troy Brown Jr. got hot from three, and after a LeBron-to-Gabriel connection, the Lakers were only down by four with four minutes left.
The Lakers valiant effort without their star center fell short down the stretch as the Timberwolves won by nine. They stayed in the game until the closing seconds but never got closer than two possessions behind as the game winded down.
It’s difficult to talk about positives when the Lakers can’t put a win together, but there were some positives. Russ looked great with the second unit and played his best game yet. He was making the extra pass, putting pressure on the rim, and his hamstring seemed just fine. Despite the absence of AD and Minnesota having bigs like Rudy Gobert and KAT, the Lakers were able to win the rebounding battle 55-49. It was a true team effort with over six players with six or more rebounds.
The Lakers are in a hole they can’t dig themselves out of. They can’t shoot, and no help is on the way. Keeping the team as is means a season with a player in the GOAT conversation is being wasted with not many years left. Making a change could make you just good enough to be in the middle and ruin your future for years to come. The Lakers are stuck between a rock and hard place with no hope on the horizon.
They play Denver next on Sunday in search of their first victory.
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