Lakers show some good as rookies soar to beat Timberwolves, 106-98

Lakers get to be the good guys in matchup with Minnesota Timberwolves, as rookies lead them to 106-98 victory

Not everybody thumps the Lakers. Sometimes they get to be the big kids on the block.

Especially when they're playing one of their little lottery friends.

The Lakers stuck it to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 106-98, ending a five-game losing streak Friday and improving a ghastly home record to 10-31.

Three Lakers rookies were the story as the team with the NBA's fourth-worst record (21-58) had fun against the second-worst team (16-63), leading by as many as 18.

There was even the seldom-heard "We Want Tacos" chant in the final two minutes, the Lakers obligingly winning and holding the Timberwolves under 100.

Fun hasn't really thrown its arms around the Lakers this season, and they still have to win one of their final three games to avoid being the worst team in franchise history. That distinction is currently held by the 1957-58 Minneapolis Lakers, who had a .264 winning percentage.

But those who were at Staples Center on Friday got a look at one consistently producing Lakers rookie and two who had been solid in spurts.

Jordan Clarkson had 18 points, nine assists and brought fans to their feet with a behind-the-back pass to Jabari Brown for a fastbreak basket in the fourth quarter.

Brown, who played with Clarkson at Missouri, had 20 points and seven assists himself, also showing an ability to get to the free-throw line. The third rookie, Tarik Black, had a career-high 18 points on eight-for-nine shooting and 10 rebounds.

"I'm just in awe, just watching both those guys, Jabari and J.C., just blossom right in front of my eyes," Black said. "It's cool because I'm a rookie as well and I'm speaking about them like I'm an older brother, like I'm a 10-year vet or something."

A more established rookie, Minnesota's Andrew Wiggins, had 29 points, 10 rebounds and some dunks that even impressed Lakers fans.

Jordan Hill and Carlos Boozer continued to be healthy non-participants, almost forcing Lakers Coach Byron Scott to defend his strategy of sitting veteran players.

"Some people might say that's tanking. I don't know," he said. "But I think you're really trying to evaluate the talent that you have to try to put your best team out there for the next year."

Jeremy Lin sat because of a sore left knee, leaving the Lakers with Clarkson, Brown and journeyman Dwight Buycks as their only healthy guards.

Scott joked that his son, assistant coach Thomas Scott, might need to suit up. The elder Scott, though, made it clear he personally wouldn't play.

"I'm not putting me in there," said Scott, who last played full-court basketball two years ago at a local gym. "I was busting their butt. I was having a ball. And then for three days I couldn't get out of bed. That tells me right there you can't be playing five-on-five anymore."

The Lakers won't be playing anyone after next Wednesday's season finale. Not really a bad thing, though they were definitely entertaining Friday.

Twitter: Mike_Bresnahan

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