Coming off a blowout, vibe-improving win against the Hornets on Thursday, the Lakers close 2023 with a back-to-back on the road, first against a Minnesota Timberwolves team that remains one of the best in the league.
Start time and TV schedule
Who: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
When: 8:00 p.m. PT, Dec. 30
Where: Target Center
Watch: Spectrum Sportsnet
When these two sides met nine days ago, a LeBron James-less Lakers side stayed close and fought hard for about 45 minutes before letting the game get away down the stretch. But with LeBron likely in tow and the Lakers no longer exhausted and on a losing streak, it creates an even more intriguing matchup between the two.
The Lakers have won two of their three contests since the last meeting between these two, matching Minnesota’s record in that same stretch. The Wolves sit at 23-7 and atop the Western Conference, seven games ahead of the Lakers in the eighth seed.
When the teams last played, second-chance points proved to be a factor, as they often have this year. Minnesota had nine offensive rebounds that they turned into 17 points, 10 more than the Lakers in a game that was decided by just seven points.
Rudy Gobert was the main catalyst for that, grabbing five of those offensive boards himself. And while he did have basically no success defending Davis, he did make an impact with a double-double.
Having a healthier version of Jarred Vanderbilt will also be a factor in this one. When the two teams last met, Vando did not start and only played 14 minutes off the bench. Without their best point-of-attack defender to guard Anthony Edwards, the Lakers saw Ant light them up for 27 points on 19 shots.
Since then, Vando has both moved into the starting lineup and saw his minutes restriction lifted, two huge additions that should also swing things in the Lakers’ favor.
It’ll be an interesting test for the Lakers and another barometer game to see where they stand against the elites in the conference.
Notes and Updates
- The Lakers look set to be back to what will be full health for them in the coming months. Cam Reddish, who missed Thursday’s game with a groin injury, is listed as probable. Anthony Davis and LeBron James both remain listed as questionable.
- Minnesota also will likely be at full strength. Karl-Anthony Towns is listed as questionable with knee soreness, but he played in each of the team’s last two games this week.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.