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Lakers vs. Timberwolves Preview: Maintain

The bruised-and-battered Lakers will look to continue their hopeful climb up the standings on Friday with a pivotal matchup in the form of a game against the Timberwolves.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Memphis Grizzlies Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Stay afloat. Keep your head above water. Maintain.

These sayings all convey a similar message, and all should be at the forefront of the minds of each and every member of the Los Angeles Lakers.

This was already apparent earlier in the week via reporting that LeBron James would be out for multiple weeks at the very least, with that bit of bad news confirmed by the team during the day on Thursday. That specific update noted that he suffered a tendon injury in his right foot and that he would be reevaluated in approximately three weeks.

That grim reality was, assumedly, already on the minds of the Lakers players and coaches on Wednesday, when they went into Oklahoma City to get a crucial road win over the now 13th-seeded Thunder while Anthony Davis also sat out.

They’ll now return home on Friday for an evening contest against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Here’s what to look out for in that contest.

Taking advantage

The Lakers will be without LeBron, but they’ll also be without D’Angelo Russell who (in a bit of a puzzling move) told ESPN on Tuesday that he could go ahead and be ruled out for this Friday night matchup against the Timberwolves due to the ankle sprain he suffered last week.

After seemingly taking a rest day on the second night of a back-to-back vs. the Thunder, Anthony Davis should be available, but — and I know you’re probably sick of me talking about injuries — the same certainty may not be able to be said about Dennis Schröder’s status. Even if he’s available, he may be in some pain due to a rolled ankle he suffered against the Thunder.

But hopefully Davis and Schröder are feeling right and ready to go, as this Timberwolves game will be even more important than Wednesday’s game vs the Thunder for potential play-in seeding. The Timberwolves currently sit in 8th place in the Western Conference with a 32-32 record, which puts them 2.5 games in front of the Lakers as of Thursday evening.

The marquee individual matchup will be Davis vs. the Frenchman, Rudy Gobert. The two actually haven’t faced off against each other since Gobert was traded to the Timberwolves, as Davis was out in the two teams’ sole meeting this season back in October (the Lakers will play the T’Wolves one final time this season on Mar. 31).

If Davis takes this matchup seriously and personally, Schröder is healthy, and the newly long and lengthy Lakers can contain Anthony Edwards, then L.A. may be able to go 2-1 in this new injury period for LeBron. While doing so, they’ll also improve their odds at giving The King a play-in (or even playoff) setting to thrive in upon his return.

Notes and Updates:

  • Anthony Davis (right foot stress injury) and Dennis Schröder (left ankle sprain) are both probable to play against Minnesota, while LeBron James (right foot soreness) and D’Angelo Russell (right ankle sprain) remain out.
  • Scotty Pippen Jr. and Cole Swider remain on assignment with the South Bay Lakers
  • For the Timberwolves, Wendell Moore Jr. (G League assignment) and Karl-Anthony Towns (right calf strain) are out, while Jaylen Nowell (left knee tendinopathy) is questionable.

The Lakers and Timberwolves will tip off at 7:30 p.m. PT. The game will be televised locally on Spectrum SportsNet.

You can follow Donny on Twitter at @donny_mchenry.

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