Three games left in season after Lakers fall to Timberwolves – San Bernardino Sun

LOS ANGELES — Kyle Kuzma was limping on the court, and Luke Walton turned to the bench to find someone to take his place. Turned out, Kuzma was one ginger step ahead of him.

“As he walked by me he said, ‘Coach,you’ve got to get me out,’” Walton said after Kuzma became the latest Lakers star to go down with an injury as the Lakers lost 113-96 to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Kuzma had played through a sprained right ankle since March 13, but when he felt the left one turn underneath him as he tried to make a move to the basket during the second quarter, that spelled the end of his night and, perhaps, his season.

“It’s kind of hard to move around on two flat tires,” Kuzma said.

The fact Kuzma begged out of the game told Walton how much pain his starting forward must have been in.

“He plays through a lot,” Walton said. “He wants to stay out on the floor, so he was struggling with it.”

Kuzma suffering an injury was the final straw on a night that started with great promise but ended in lopsided defeat. After a statue honoring Elgin Baylor was unveiled outside of Staples Center earlier in the evening, the Lakers started hot against the team representing the city where Baylor’s career began.

Brook Lopez scored 15 straight points to open the game for the Lakers.

On one possession, Kuzma turned to Julius Randle and asked what play they should run. Randle replied, “Man, just throw him the ball and get out the way.”

“I thought Brook did a really nice job of coming out and going blow-to-blow with them on the offensive end,” Walton said. “It wasn’t just him. Our guys did a good job of finding him the ball and getting him in scoring positions.”

The Lakers (34-45) jockeyed for the lead as the Timberwolves (45-35) were desperate for a win in the chase for playoff seeding. L.A. pulled ahead in the second quarter, leading by as many as 12 points with 3:08 remaining before halftime.

But without Kuzma, who started the second half on his sore ankle but checked out, the lead dwindled. The Lakers lost it for good on a layup by Taj Gibson with 7:04 left in the third quarter that put the Timberwolves ahead 65-64.

Before it was over, the Timberwolves’ lead had grown to as many as 21 points. Two nights after knocking the San Antonio Spurs a couple of pegs down the Western Conference standings, the Lakers could not conjure the same magic against the Wolves.

Randle and Josh Hart each logged 20-point double-doubles, with Hart pulling down 11 rebounds and Randle grabbing 10 boards.

However, Lopez could only muster three points after his hot start, finishing with 18 on 7-of-10 shooting.

Jeff Teague led the Timberwolves with a game-high 25 points to go with eight assists.

Jimmy Butler returned to the Minnesota lineup after missing his previous 17 games after undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus. He scored 17 points, while Karl-Anthony Towns (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Gibson (18 points, 10 boards) recorded double-doubles.

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