MINNEAPOLIS – Anthony Edwards scored 16 of his 29 points in the third quarter, Rudy Gobert added 22 points and 21 rebounds, and the Minnesota Timberwolves extended the Los Angeles Lakers’ winless start with a 111-102 win on Friday night.
Karl-Anthony Towns scored 14 of his 21 points in the fourth and D’Angelo Russell had 11 points for Minnesota, which won back-to-back games for the first time this season and took control with an 11-4 run midway through the fourth.
“I see a ton of growth opportunity within it on both sides of the ball, with the bench, with everything with the lineup combinations,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “I’m a prove-it-to-you guy. I still want to see it more."
LeBron James scored 28 points for Los Angeles, which was without Anthony Davis due to low back tightness and lost its fifth straight. Russell Westbrook came off the bench for the first time since his rookie season and chipped in with 18 points and eight rebounds.
With his eighth field goal of the night, LeBron James recorded his 1,135th career 20-point game, passing Karl Malone for the most such games in NBA history.
The Lakers’ 0-5 start has been marred by poor shooting, and they were 41.6% from the field and 9 of 29 (31%) from 3-point range against the Timberwolves. Los Angeles entered the day with the league’s lowest shooting percentages, hitting 41.6% from the field and 22.3% from 3.
“I think our offense is harming us right now,” James said. “Defensively, once again, we had a great game plan. We went out and competed, gave ourself a chance. Couple possessions here, couple possessions there didn’t go our way, but just keep hammering on.”
The Lakers also tied a season-high with 22 turnovers, leading to 25 points for the Timberwolves.
Without Davis, Minnesota used its twin towers of Gobert and Towns inside. Damian Jones started for Davis, but Gobert had his way early with six points and four rebounds as the Timberwolves built a nine-point advantage in the first quarter.
With its focus inside, Minnesota scored 46 points in the paint for the game.
“I just think for us we have to continue to utilize what we have,” Towns said of putting the game away inside with Gobert. “Keeping the game simple, utilizing the advantages we have against teams with how big our lineup is, just continuing to trust each other in the offense and do whatever the game is telling us to do.”
Westbrook came off the bench for the first time since the 17th game of his rookie season in 2008-09. Troy Brown Jr. made the start in his place and scored 12 points on four 3s.
Ham had approached Westbrook about the change as the team tries to shake its sluggish start. Westbrook provided a spark with 10 points in the second quarter.
“From Day 1, I mentioned, I’m a guy that’s willing to do whatever for the team,” Westbrook said. “I’ll sacrifice whatever it is that needed to be sacrificed, parts of my game that I’ve done for years to accommodate whatever it is that the coach needs me to do and I’ll continue doing that.”
Lakers: Ham said Davis woke up Friday with the low back tightness and the team decided to take a cautious approach. Ham was hopeful Davis will be able to play when the team returns home and hosts Denver on Sunday. Friday was the first missed game of the season for Davis, who is averaging 24 points and 9.5 rebounds this season. ... Westbrook passed Robert Parish for 29th on the all-time scoring list with 23,335 points on a second-quarter free throw. ... Los Angeles had a season-high 55 rebounds, including a season-high 12 offensive boards.
Timberwolves: G Jordan McLaughlin was held out with right heel soreness. F Kyle Anderson missed his fourth straight game with back spasms. ... G Austin Rivers returned after missing two games with right hip soreness. Rivers was the backup point guard with McLaughlin out. ... Minnesota had a season-high 13 steals and eight blocks.
Lakers: Host Denver on Sunday.
Timberwolves: At San Antonio on Sunday.
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