Thursday, January 26, 2023
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NBA Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves (3-7) at Los Angeles Lakers (7-5)

The Los Angeles Lakers have used a little extra court time to feel better about the road ahead and will take their positive vibes into a meeting at home with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.

The Lakers are coming off consecutive overtime victories, one Monday over the Charlotte Hornets and another Wednesday against the Miami Heat. The two victories came after Los Angeles lost consecutive games when LeBron James went down with an abdominal injury.

James was initially scheduled to miss a week when his injury was revealed last week. The belief is that James now will be out even longer, with the team determined to keep things positive.

“The last two games have definitely been fun, for sure,” said the Lakers’ Anthony Davis, who had 32 points against the Hornets and 24 against the Heat. “Guys are having fun. Guys are starting to realize how good of a team we are. We just have to continue to keep that mindset.”

James’ is far from the Lakers’ only injury issue. Los Angeles went with nine players in the OT game Wednesday, with every one of them playing at least 11 minutes. Guards Austin Reaves and Rajon Rondo did not play because of hamstring strains. Reaves will be out at least two weeks.

In addition, Trevor Ariza (ankle), Kendrick Nunn (knee) and Talen Horton-Tucker (thumb) all are ailing.

“It’s just resiliency,” said Russell Westbrook, who had 25 points, 12 rebounds and 14 assists against the Heat. “We have guys down and are short numbered. … We just have to compete, regardless of who we’re playing and regardless of the circumstances.”

The Lakers have three games remaining on this homestand. However, they follow it up with a challenging five-game Eastern Conference trip starting next week that includes stops at Milwaukee, Boston and New York to face the Knicks.

The Timberwolves make their first visit to Los Angeles for the opener of a back-to-back that concludes with a game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday. Minnesota is on a six-game losing streak, essentially wiping out the sense of accomplishment that came from winning three of their first four games this season.

Minnesota’s latest defeat came Wednesday when they fell 123-110 at Golden State, but there are signs of hope. Second-year guard Anthony Edwards scored a career-high 48 points against the Warriors, going 16 of 27 from the field and 7 of 13 from 3-point range.

The 20-year-old Edwards is just the fourth player with three games of at least 40 points before turning 21, along with James, Kevin Durant and Luka Doncic.

“Unreal,” Edwards’ teammate D’Angelo Russell said, per the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “I think he’s more than capable of having 50-point games and we win. Next step is dominating a game like that and we win. Shoutout to him, though.”

One game earlier, at the start of the current four-game trip, the Wolves went to overtime at Memphis before falling 125-118.

Russell returned from an ankle injury to score 30 points in that one. It was a season high in points for Russell and the first time he reached 30 in a game since January of last season. He had 18 points and seven assists against his former team Wednesday.

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