Preview: Lakers at Minnesota Timberwolves

Lakers are playing on the road the second straight night, but Minnesota is extremely short-handed

The Lakers (18-51) visit the Minnesota Timberwolves (16-54) on Wednesday night.

The Timberwolves are one of the three teams the Lakers are "chasing" for a better position in the NBA's draft lottery.

A loss would be a boon for the Lakers after their win on Sunday over the Philadelphia 76ers.

Minnesota played just seven players on Monday, but managed to beat the Jazz in Utah with a 106-104 overtime win.

The Wolves are even more injured than the Lakers.  Kevin Martin (hamstring) and Justin Hamilton (migraine) are questionable, Kevin Garnett (knee), Ricky Rubio (ankle) and Gary Neal (ankle) are doubtful, while Nikola Pekovic (ankle), Shabazz Muhammad (finger), Anthony Bennett (leg) and Robbie Hummel (hand) are all out.

For the Lakers, Nick Young is out with a knee injury while Ronnie Price (elbow), Kobe Bryant (shoulder), Julius Randle (knee) and Steve Nash (back) are all done for the season.

Key matchup

UCLA product Zach LaVine led the Wolves over the Jazz with 27 points. That's one short of his career high of 28 -- earned against the Lakers in November.

The rookie guard is inconsistent, but explosive. Through the month of March he's averaged 12.2 points and 3.4 assists a game, while shooting 43.5% from the field, along with an impressive 51.4% from three-point range.

The Lakers are now starting Jordan Clarkson and Jeremy Lin at guard. They'll need to be well aware of where LaVine is at all times.

Clarkson scored his own career high of 30 on Tuesday night in a loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

X-factor

Andrew Wiggins is the front-runner for rookie of the year.

The 20-year old forward is averaging 15.8 points a game for the Timberwolves. Wiggins is extremely athletic, a capable defender and dangerous scorer.

As he matures and improves his jump shot, Wiggins may quickly develop into an All-Star.

The Lakers have an extremely athletic small forward as well in Wesley Johnson. While he's inconsistent offensively, Johnson may be the team's best chance defensively against Wiggins.

Outlook

The Lakers are at a disadvantage, playing on the second straight night on the road. Minnesota is extremely short-handed and vulnerable, but they have a real shot to win their 17th game of the season.

Email Eric Pincus at Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
51°