Here is what you need to know before the Lakers try to extend their winning streak versus the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Lakers have been on a roll lately, winning three straight games over Memphis, San Antonio and Sacramento. Los Angeles has strung this streak together by owning the possession battle, as it leads the league in turnovers forced (17.7) during this span, while outrebounding its opponents by 9.6 per game.
The Lakers’ latest victory was powered by an efficient night from Julius Randle, who put up 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting. With his college coach, John Calipari, sitting courtside, Randle went to work in the third quarter as he put up 13 of his points, including a dazzlingly behind-the-back dribble that he parlayed into an and-1 layup.
While Randle was the Lakers’ leader that night, D’Angelo Russell was the one who put the game away. Though he shot just 2-of-8 from the field until the closing minutes, he rose to the occasion, hitting a lead-taking 3-pointer and the go-ahead, finger-roll layup with only 41 seconds left.
As the Lakers prepare to move into their new practice facility, the UCLA Health Training Center, their D-League team announced another part of their rebrand on Saturday. The D-Fenders, who will be known as the South Bay Lakers, revealed their new logos for next season.
The Lakers and Wolves faced each other just nine days ago, as Ricky Rubio’s steaming shooting led to a comfortable Minnesota win. Rubio — who went off for a career-high 33 points and 10 assists — always seems to get hot against the Lakers, as his previous -high of 28 was also against the purple and gold last season.
Rubio has maintained his success over the past seven games, tallying five double-doubles while averaging one with 19.4 points and 10.3 assists. Rubio has brought it on both ends all season long, ranking fifth in the NBA in assists (9.1), ninth in steals (1.70) and 10th in free throw percentage (88.9).
Another player who loves facing the purple and gold is Andrew Wiggins, who is averaging a ridiculous 36.7 points against the Lakers this year — the most of any opposing player. Wiggins has been scorching since his last meeting with L.A., putting up 28.8 points a night in his last six games.
For as dominant as Wiggins has been lately, teammate Karl-Anthony Towns might be at an even higher temperature. Since the All-Star break, Towns ranks fifth in the NBA in both scoring (28.0) and rebounding (12.7). Already one of the most complete offensive bigs in the league, Towns also has four 30-point games in his last seven appearances.
With how well Rubio, Wiggins and Towns have played lately, it’s surprising how few victories the Wolves have managed. They have lost four of their last five, primarily due to some lopsided nights at the 3-point line. During this stretch, Minnesota is averaging the fewest made triples (5.6) while allowing the second-most (12.8).
Both the Lakers and Timberwolves picked players in the top five of this year’s draft. L.A.’s Brandon Ingram has been on a roll lately, scoring double figures in each of his last 13 full games played. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s Kris Dunn is looking to get his rhythm back, as he has more fouls (18) than points (nine) in his last six games.
Lakers: Brandon Ingram (right patellar tendinitis) is probable. Ivica Zubac (high right ankle sprain) is out.
Timberwolves: Zach LaVine (torn left ACL), Nemanja Bjelica (fractured left foot) and Nikola Pekovic (right ankle) are out.
Tip-Off: 6:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Click here to view game notes for this contest.