Wednesday night’s game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves featured a lot of young talent on the floor, and that young talent put on a show in an overtime thriller that was ultimately won by the Timberwolves, 123-122.
No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns had 26 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks for the victorious Wolves, and he hit numerous big jumpers down the stretch of regulation to put his team in position to win. Not to be outdone, D’Angelo Russell had a career-high 23 points in 32 minutes off the bench, with 21 of those points coming in the second half and overtime. Russell’s tough shot in the final seconds of the fourth quarter sent the game to OT:
D'ANGELO RUSSELL ONIONS pic.twitter.com/WmvwH1BHMk
— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) December 10, 2015
Unfortunately, Russell missed a potential game-winner in overtime, but it was still great to see the kid out there playing with confidence in crunch time. Lakers head coach Byron Scott has come under a lot of fire for how he’s coached the young core this season, but he stuck with Russell and fellow youngster Julius Randle down the stretch after recently saying he was going to limit their minutes. Kobe Bryant helped with that decision:
Byron Scott said Kobe told him to "let them go," referring to leaving the young guys in the game and seeing how they handled it.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) December 10, 2015
It’s great to see Kobe do that, as the development of the kids should be the main focus of this season, even during his retirement tour. In addition to Russell’s career night, Randle had 20 points and 12 rebounds in 33 minutes.
Back to the Wolves, Andrew Wiggins had a relatively standard game with 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting, but he also hit some big buckets late. His driving layup in the final minute proved to be the difference.
This was one heck of a game, and while the Lakers lost, this was a great outcome for them. The youngsters showed a lot of promise in key moments, Kobe played just 24 minutes and the loss is a plus in terms of possibly keeping their top three protected pick. The only real bummer was that Jordan Clarkson sprained his ankle when he stepped on Wiggins’s foot in the third quarter, so hopefully Clarkson will be okay.
And for the Wolves, pulling out a close game at home has to feel good considering some of the heartbreaking losses this season. Oh, by the way, veteran shooting guard Kevin Martin had 37 points, so that was nice.