Life without LeBron James continued for the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday when they hosted the Minnesota Timberwolves.
They were coming off a road trip in which they had won two of three games, and overall they had taken five of their last seven contests.
Los Angeles got off to a fast start, but the Timberwolves fought back, and in the third quarter they muscled their way to a double-digit lead as they rendered the Lakers slow and stagnant offensively. After the game, head coach Darvin Ham said the Lakers looked like they were “playing in the mud” as he seemed to lament the fact they had only 10 fast-break points all night while giving up 26.
Anthony Davis and company made a run down the stretch, but it was too little, too late, as LA fell to Minnesota 110-102.
While Davis had a huge game, his teammates were of little help. The team shot just 41.9 percent from the field and 32.3 percent from 3-point range, and its 23 assists were indicative of its lack of ball movement and pace in the second half when it mustered just 47 points.
With a 30-34 record, the Lakers have fallen to a full game behind the 10th-place New Orleans Pelicans and three games behind the sixth-place Dallas Mavericks.
Anthony Davis: A-
With James and D’Angelo Russell out, Davis did his part to pick up the offensive slack. He scored 38 points on 12-of-22 shooting, and he also did a good job of drawing fouls, as he converted 12-of-14 free throws.
After a torrid start, Davis cooled off in the third quarter. But after Rudy Gobert went to the bench with his fourth foul with 7:10 left in the third quarter, Davis started to heat up, as he scored 11 points throughout the rest of the period. Late in the fourth quarter, he had a key steal on Gobert, then scored at the other end.
But overall, it seemed Gobert got the best of Davis when the two were matched up. Davis was unable to score consistently on Gobert, while Gobert got 22 points on 8-of-12 from the field, to go along with 14 rebounds and three blocks.
Meanwhile, Davis only had five boards himself, and he committed six turnovers.
Jarred Vanderbilt: B
Vanderbilt took on the defensive assignment of guarding Anthony Edwards, and with his help, Edwards was held relatively in check with 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting.
The Lakers’ new starting forward scored eight points and even got up three 3-point attempts, of which he made one, while grabbing five rebounds and adding two steals in 32 minutes.
Vanderbilt forced a key turnover in the fourth quarter that led to him being fouled on the ensuing fast break as the Lakers made their rally. But they could have used more energy, production and presence from him.
Troy Brown Jr.: B/B+
Brown continued his accurate shooting of late by going 3-of-5 overall and 2-of-3 from 3-point range. To go along with his eight points, he had six rebounds, three steals and two assists.
Coming into this game, Brown had been shooting 42.0 percent from downtown in his last 13 games and 39.8 percent in his last 27 games.
Dennis Schroder: C
Schroder went scoreless until midway through the third quarter, and he never really got himself going offensively, as he finished 3-of-13 and scored just six points.
On the bright side, he did have 12 assists and no turnovers, but the length and size of Minnesota’s defense prevented him from finding many seams he could get through in order to attack the basket.
Malik Beasley: A-
Beasley gave the Lakers a lift with 15 points, as he went 5-of-11 overall and 3-of-6 from downtown. He has shown some decent balance with his offensive game, as he has the willingness to turn down contested 3-pointers in order to drive the ball into the paint and attempt layups or mid-range shots.
He also helped with eight rebounds, but Los Angeles could have used more offensive assertiveness from him in this game.
Rui Hachimura: D-/D
Hachimura shot just 2-of-9 and had trouble getting his shots to fall, whether they were from the perimeter or near the hoop. With just six points, two rebounds and one assist in 22 minutes, he failed to make a meaningful contribution overall.
The Japan native has thus far failed to show the type of consistent production he had as a member of the Washington Wizards. With James out for at least the next few weeks, this would be an opportune time for Hachimura to break out and go on a hot streak.
Mo Bamba: B/B+
Bamba got 11 minutes of playing time on Friday, and he contributed six rebounds and five points on 2-of-4 shooting. However, he did not block a single shot.
He could’ve gotten more playing time and made more of an impact, but Ham decided to go small early in the second quarter while Davis was resting. During that time, the Lakers failed to make up any ground on Minnesota.
Austin Reaves: C-
After several very strong games over the last few weeks, Reaves came back down to earth tonight. He made just 2-of-8 shots and missed both of his attempts from downtown, as he mustered just six points while adding three rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes.
Lonnie Walker IV: B-/B
With Russell and James unable to play lately, Walker has re-entered the Lakers’ rotation. He helped out on Friday with 10 points in 26 minutes, but he wasn’t very efficient, as he went 4-of-9 overall and 2-of-6 from downtown.
Los Angeles needed more slashing to the hoop early in possessions from Walker. In general, the team played at too slow a pace, which played into the hands of Minnesota, a team that lacks that type of open-court ability the Lakers possess.
Wenyen Gabriel: Incomplete
Gabriel played four minutes at the start of the second quarter when the Lakers went with a small lineup. His only contribution on the stat sheet was one foul.