Short-handed Lakers shoot for season sweep of Wolves

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The Los Angeles Lakers hope their shortened roster can make it through a back-to-back when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.

The Lakers assured themselves no worse than a split in their two-day, two-game set by crushing the Golden State Warriors 128-97 on Monday night in San Francisco.

The game featured LeBron James’ 98th career triple-double. If he were to get just the second of his career against the Timberwolves, he would move within one of becoming the fifth in NBA history to reach the 100 milestone.

Oscar Robertson (181), Russell Westbrook (157), Magic Johnson (138) and Jason Kidd (107) are the only members of that club.

Montrezl Harrell actually outscored his teammate 27-22 to pace the Lakers, who were in control most of the way and thus were able to limit minutes to no more than 30 on the first night of the back-to-back.

James led the Lakers in minutes played with 30.

Currently without Anthony Davis (strained calf), Marc Gasol (COVID-related) and Alex Caruso (concussion), the Lakers stumbled on the second night of a back-to-back earlier this month when they fell 123-120 at Sacramento. They had lost 114-104 at home against the Phoenix Suns on the night before.

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“We continue to be forced into evolving and adjusting on the fly with guys being out, and that’s just part of any normal NBA season, but in particular this year with the health and safety protocols,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said before Monday’s game. “We just got to roll with it. We got a lot of depth here, a lot of guys getting opportunities to play and impact the game. We’ll be adjusting on the fly.”

The Lakers will be looking for a season sweep of the Timberwolves, having beaten Minnesota 127-91 in Los Angeles on Dec. 27 and 112-104 in Minneapolis on Feb. 16.

The Timberwolves were far more competitive in the rematch thanks to the improved play of rookie Anthony Edwards.

The No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft shot just 6-for-21 en route to 15 points in the first meeting. Minnesota connected on just 36.9 percent of its shots and just six of its 35 3-point attempts.

But the Timberwolves improved to 41.9 percent overall and 16-for-34 on 3-point tries last month, with Edwards doing a lot of the damage, going for 28 points on 10-for-21 shooting, including 5-for-10 from 3-point range.

The 19-year-old has scored 20 or more points in six of his past seven games after doing so just seven times in Minnesota’s first 32 outings.

Edwards is coming off a season-best, 34-point night in a 114-112 home win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday in the second half of a two-game set.

“He’s fearless,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said after the win. “That’s what you want from all your great offensive players — fearless — and as he learns the NBA and learns his own game and tries to master those individual situations that he finds himself in, which he will over time. It’s fun to see him playing like that, for sure.”

Minnesota, the losingest team in the NBA at 9-30, has won two of three since the All-Star break despite the absence of former Lakers guard D’Angelo Russell, who remains out after knee surgery.

–Field Level Media

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