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Each team missing stars, Lakers blow out Timberwolves 127-91

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LOS ANGELES – The NBA can sober you in a hurry.

On Saturday night, the Timberwolves were riding high following an impressive win against Utah on the road.

Karl-Anthony Towns had exited the game with a left wrist injury, but he was able to return, so it must not have been that bad, right?

But before Sunday’s game the Wolves got a gut punch when they announced Towns would be out an indefinite amount of time because of a dislocation in that left wrist — and then they had to take the floor without him against the Lakers.

The defending champions had their way with the Wolves in a 127-91 rout that wasn’t close from the opening moments. The Wolves were on the tail end of their first back-to-back, but they looked lost in their first game without Towns.

Kyle Kuzma scored 20 points for the Lakers while LeBron James had 18 points and nine rebounds. Anthony Edwards had 15 points to lead the Wolves, who shot 35% in the first half and 36.9% for the game.

“There were a lot of things I didn’t like tonight,” Wolves coach Ryan Saunders said. “We’ll dive into the film, but we got a good locker room … and they’re feeling the same way. I’m sure.”

On top of the blowout, the Wolves had another injury scare in the second quarter when Josh Okogie had to leave the game with help from the athletic training staff after an awkward fall.

Okogie grabbed at his left leg after he fell and had trouble putting weight on that leg as he limped off. But in the only bit of good news for the Wolves on the night, the team announced he would miss the rest of the game because of cramping.

Saunders said he didn’t have an update on Okogie’s status after the game.

The Wolves will need all the help they can get if they want to survive this stretch without Towns, which could last weeks.

The Lakers never let the Wolves in the game, even with All-Star forward Anthony Davis out of the lineup because of a right calf contusion. Oddly enough, it wasn’t even the most lopsided game played at Staples Center on Sunday; the Mavericks beat the Clippers by a staggering 51 points, 124-73, earlier in the day.

Kuzma hit his first four three-pointers of the night as Los Angeles raced out to a 21-8 lead less than five minutes into the game and didn’t let up.

BOXSCORE: L.A. Lakers 127, Wolves 91

The natural place to look to lead the Wolves offense in Towns’ absence is guard D’Angelo Russell. But Russell couldn’t find his rhythm and, like a lot of Wolves, seemed to be forcing the issue to compensate for Towns. He finished just 2-for-7 from the floor with four points and sat most of the second half.

Edwards, despite his 15 points, looked like a rookie for the first time in his career, forcing shots as he went 6-for-21 from the floor, 1-for-9 from three-point range.

Russell placed blame for the Wolves’ struggles on how they handled their second game in consecutive nights.

“We don’t know how much a back-to-back plays into another team’s favor,” Russell said. “As a young team, it’s our first back-to-back. I would say as a group we didn’t approach it the right way as far as being prepared.”

Back to back or not, what the Wolves put on the court Sunday night won’t cut it going forward, especially if they don’t have Towns.

“We didn’t play our brand of basketball at all and it wasn’t something that I felt was in this group’s mind-set right now,” Saunders said. “But we did have a night like that. The great thing about this league is you get to attempt to rectify that in two days.”

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