LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers appeared to have found their groove notching their fourth straight win on Sunday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves edging out an 110-109 win
It was a competitive back-and-forth affair that saw the team’s traded the lead 16 times throughout in the final minutes of the game. Los Angeles was able to overcome a pair of 40-point performances from both Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins with a game-winning 3-pointer by D’Angelo Russell at the buzzer on the same day that his mother passed away.
It marks their first four-game winning streak in the last four seasons. Here are a few takeaways from Sunday’s game:
Russell Powers Through
It was a day that got off to a rocky start for Russell with the passing of his grandmother.
Despite the already huge emotional toll of the major personal loss, Russell took the floor on Sunday night against the Timberwolves with help of his family and the strong belief that his grandmother would have wanted him to play.
“Honestly, I knew that’s what my grandmother would have wanted,” Russell said about playing. “My dad, my brothers, everybody wanted me to play. I wanted to get away from basketball. I didn’t want to express myself through basketball, but that’s the only option I had. I tried to take advantage of it.”
It was another wise average performance from Russell scoring just 16 points on 6-of-19 shooting in 35 minutes played. However, it was the final made shot that came on a 3-pointer that rattled in at the buzzer that gave the Lakers their fourth straight win in what he called his most emotional NBA game.
“To win the game with a game-winning shot,” Russell said. “That’s God putting a cherry on top. A win would have been good enough.”
Balanced Scoring Attack
With the Lakers seemingly finding some late-season success, it has been behind their balanced scoring outings.
Los Angeles had six players in double figures, including their entire starting lineup with Tyler Ennis leading the way with a career-high 20 points off the bench. They also held a 27-16 edge in fast break points while also notching 58 points in the paint.
“I think we are coming out, playing freely and competing,” Russell said. “Trying to play defense and not worrying about the offensive end.”
The Lakers have seemingly found their groove in the last four games scoring three 100-plus points three times while three of their wins during that stretch have come at Staples Center.
They will look to keep the momentum going in the final two games of the season in a back-to-back set first at home against the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday then finish it off against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena the following night.
T’Wolves Duo Go Off
With another matchup against the Lakers, Towns put together another strong outing notching a double-double with 40 points on 17-of-21 shooting and a game-high 21 rebounds.
He made first four shots of the game while scoring eight of the Timberwolves’ first 12 points. Towns took over in the second quarter scoring 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting with six rebounds that helped close the gap at the half to a two deficit.
Towns remained a huge factor throughout the second half registering 15 points and 10 rebounds. He had a couple of key buckets late in the fourth quarter but that didn’t prove to be enough to keep his team ahead in the end.
Meanwhile, Wiggins put together a stellar individual offensive performance notching a game-high 41 points on 13-of-26 shooting from the field. He had the bulk of the production in the second half scoring 25 points with 11 points in the fourth quarter.
“I’m just trying to win,” Wiggins said on scoring 40 points alongside Towns. “I wasn’t really thinking about his numbers, nothing like that. He’s going to get his, he’s that type of player. I was just thinking about winning.”
These two young rising stars are a key part of the Timberwolves’ future that is bright with the potential to develop into something special in the years to come.