After a year-long hiatus, the Lakers are back in the playoffs. In overtime, they squeaked past the Timberwolves 108-102 in Tuesday night’s #7 vs. #8 play-in tournament match and will face the second-placed Grizzlies in the first round starting this weekend.
On Friday, Minnesota will battle the winner of Wednesday’s Pelicans-Thunder game at home for a playoff spot.
Los Angeles star duo Anthony Davis and LeBron James led the way Tuesday night. Davis was a threat defensively, especially in the second half, and thwarted Minnesota’s offense by 24 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals. James made some mind-bending decisions (five turnovers) but lost 30 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and a steal. Dennis Schroder added 21 points from the bench and provided welcome color pressure.
Both offenses went cold in the fourth for a combined 31 points, including two separate goalless droughts of more than two minutes. However, some of the earnings should benefit the defense of each club. The second goalless stretch was snapped by this Schroder triple, a putative game winner with just 1.1 seconds remaining.
In the subsequent inbounds game, Davis fouled Conley, who immediately drilled all three free throws to send the game into overtime.
LeBron: “It’s unfortunate that AD brain farted and screwed up his game winner.”
AD: “I messed up his game winner, I apologize. I certainly apologize.” 🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/khlMaLr5Rx
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 12, 2023
In overtime, Minnesota’s offense remained stagnant. The Timberwolves had 60 points before the break but had just 42 in the last 47 minutes. The Lakers didn’t look much better but did enough to complete the comeback win after trailing double digits for a long time on the night.
Minnesota held onto a 60-49 lead going into the break thanks to Karl-Anthony Town’s 17 points (5-of-5 shooting) as well as a 9-of-17 performance from beyond the arc led by the Veterans Mike Conley Jr. (3-of-3) and Bull Prince (2-of-2). The Lakers defense was scattered in that half but chose to switch everything up and shut down the Timberwolves’ water as the game progressed.
Towns, who finished on 24 points, spent most of the second half in foul trouble which dampened his aggression. The Lakers also made a conscious effort to push his touches farther from the edge. Anthony Edwards fought fiercely, scoring nine points in 3-of-17 shooting and missing all nine of his long balls. Los Angeles sucked up his lanes and forced him into hard jumps.
Between the second half and overtime, Minnesota went 7-of-24 from deep, often resorting to late prayers as its offensive rhythm dissipated.
Wolves have a chance of redemption later this week when Rudy Gobert is back in the group after serving his one-game suspension for beating Kyle Anderson during the Timberwolves’ win over the Pelicans on Sunday.