Following a one-year hiatus, the Lakers are back in the playoffs. In overtime, they squeaked past the Timberwolves, 108-102, in the No. 7 vs. No. 8 Play-In Tournament matchup on Tuesday night and will face the second-seeded Grizzlies in the first round, beginning this weekend.
On Friday, Minnesota will battle the winner of Wednesday’s Pelicans-Thunder game at home for a playoff berth.
Los Angeles’ star duo, Anthony Davis and LeBron James, led the way Tuesday night. Davis was a menace defensively, particularly in the second half, and stymied Minnesota’s offense, while notching 24 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals. James made some head-scratching decisions (five turnovers), but dropped 30 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and one steal. Dennis Schroder added 21 points off the bench and provided some welcomed paint pressure.
Both offenses went cold in the fourth, with a combined 31 points, which included two different scoreless droughts of more than two minutes. Some of the credit should go to each club’s defense, though. The second scoreless stretch was snapped by this Schroder triple, a presumptive game-winner with only 1.1 seconds remaining.
On the ensuing inbounds play, Davis fouled Conley, who promptly drilled all three free throws to send the game to overtime.
LeBron: “It’s unfortunate that AD had a brain fart and messed his game-winner up.”
AD: “I messed his game-winner up I apologize. I definitely apologize.” 🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/khlMaLr5Rx
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 12, 2023
In the extra period, Minnesota’s offense remained stagnant. The Timberwolves scored 60 points before intermission, but could only muster 42 over the final 47 minutes. The Lakers didn’t look much better, but did enough to complete the comeback win after trailing by double-digits for lengthy durations of the night.
Minnesota clung to a 60-49 lead entering the break, thanks to Karl-Anthony Towns’ 17 points (5-of-5 shooting), along with a 9-of-17 showing beyond the arc, headlined by veterans Mike Conley Jr. (3-of-3) and Taurean Prince (2-of-2). The Lakers defense was scattershot that half, but elected to switch everything down the stretch of the game and shut off the Timberwolves’ water.
Towns, who ended with 24 points, spent most of the second half in foul trouble, which quelled his aggression. The Lakers also made a conscious effort to push his touches farther away from the rim. Anthony Edwards struggled mightily, scoring nine points on 3-of-17 shooting and missing all nine of his long balls. Los Angeles siphoned off his driving lanes and forced him into tough jumpers.
Between the second half and overtime, Minnesota went 7 of 24 from deep and often resorted to late clock prayers as its offensive rhythm dissipated.
The Wolves have a chance for redemption later this week, when Rudy Gobert is back in the fold after serving his one-game suspension for striking Kyle Anderson during the Timberwolves’ victory over the Pelicans on Sunday.