Los Angeles fought valiantly and refused to fold, but with LeBron James out, they just didn’t have enough to beat the Timberwolves and dropped their fourth-straight game, losing 118-111.
Anthony Davis has been on an offensive tear lately and Thursday was no exception. He ended the night with 31 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
The Lakers have struggled shooting the ball, but Taurean Prince was red-hot scoring 14 points and shooting 4-4 from three in the loss. Austin Reaves continues his hot streak as the purple and gold’s sixth man leading the charge off the bench with 18 points.
With four straight losses, this is now the Lakers’ longest losing streak of the season and things won’t get easier with L.A. playing the No. 2 seed Oklahoma City Thunder on the road on Saturday.
L.A. started well, distributing the ball and getting everyone involved with four different starters scoring during the game’s opening minutes.
With James out, size is lacking for the Lakers, so Darvin Ham actually gave Christian Wood some run during the first. But that was his only shift of the night logging just four minutes.
The Lakers were holding their own despite missing their superstar, but with Davis having two fouls, he was forced to sit during the closing minutes of the first. Minnesota took advantage, going on a 12-0 run to put the Lakers in a situation they know all too well, trailing after one.
Prince did cut the deficit down, though, with a sensational desperation 3-point buzzer beater and the Lakers were down by just two possessions heading to the second.
TAUREAN PRINCE BEATS THE BUZZER pic.twitter.com/QNR9c6rz4o— Ahn Fire Digital (@AhnFireDigital) December 22, 2023
Reaves, the Lakers’ current super-sub, led the way the rest of the half, attacking the basket and running the point well. However, after a shooting slump midway through the quarter, failing to make a field goal for three-plus minutes, Minnesota maintained control.
The Lakers didn’t fold though, getting a crucial 3-pointer from Prince and a pair of free throws from Reaves to stay within six points heading into the break.
Prince stayed hot from downtown and his third three tied the game at 70 with 7:13 left in the third. Minnesota responded with a 7-0 run of their own, keeping the Lakers at bay. But Davis stayed on the floor, taking on more minutes with James gone and after a Rui Hachimura three, the Lakers had their first lead since the first quarter.
D’Angelo Russell finally got going in the fourth making a few key mid-range buckets to keep the Lakers within striking distance. As was the case all night, Minnesota responded and with 4:34 left in the game, Nickeil Alexander-Walker hit a three to give the Timberwolves their first double-digit lead of the night.
Russell stayed hot, hitting back-to-back threes, but it wasn’t enough to close the gap as Rudy Gobert converted on a dunk putting the Lakers away once and for all.
With, arguably, their best player absent against the best team in the conference, you understand a loss is the most likely result, especially on the second night of a back-to-back.
All you want to see is effort and fight when a team is shorthanded and the Lakers provided that. Davis powered through even with his ankle clearly not at 100%. Reaves continued his good form and Prince was knocking down shots and crashing the boards.
No moral victories, though, as the Lakers are struggling and this is the worst time to do so, given the quality of opponents. They’ll have to keep fighting and upset either the Thunder or Celtics if they want to break this losing streak soon.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.