MINNEAPOLIS — The phrase “a game of inches” is a sports cliché that sums up the Lakers’ 108-106 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday at Target Center.
After trailing by seven following a Mike Conley 3-pointer to give the Timberwolves a 107-100 lead with 35.1 seconds left, the Lakers began to piece together a run that kept Minnesota fighting to maintain its lead.
Freshly turned 39-year-old LeBron James, who was battling a non-COVID-related illness whose status was questionable before the game, pulled off an and-1 turnaround on Jaden McDaniels that cut the Lakers’ deficit to five.
McDaniels was also assessed a technical foul, with Austin Reaves making the technical free throw and James making his free throw to cut the Timberwolves’ lead to 107-104 with 30 seconds remaining.
Conley missed a 3-pointer on the Timberwolves’ next possession, with Anthony Davis grabbing the defensive rebound and throwing a forward pass to James, who appeared to make a 3-pointer that would have tied the game at 107 with three seconds remaining. .
But on-court officials ruled James’ shot to be 2-point, saying his right foot was on the 3-point line, meaning the Timberwolves still had a 107-106 lead. And even after review, as James tried to show officials his foot was behind the line, the call stood.
The Lakers had to play foul play from there, with Anthony Edwards making one of two free throws with one second remaining to give the Timberwolves a two-point lead and keep the Lakers’ hopes alive.
But the Lakers did not take advantage of their last opportunity, Los Angeles having failed to pull their game before the final buzzer.
Davis led the Lakers with 33 points, 17 rebounds, eight assists, four steals and two blocks in 39 minutes. James had 26 points, six assists, three rebounds and three steals in 39 minutes.
They were the only players to score in double figures for the Lakers, who shot 29.2% from 3 (7 of 24) and 42% from the field.
The Lakers will travel to New Orleans to face the Pelicans on Sunday to close out 2023.
California Daily Newspapers