Preview: Lakers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

On Friday at Staples Center, the Lakers (20-58) draw the only team worse off than they are in the Western Conference.

The Minnesota Timberwolves (16-62) have lost eight straight games and will be without Ricky Rubio (ankle), Shabazz Muhammad (finger), Gorgui Dieng (facial contusion), Nikola Pekovic (ankle), Gary Neal (ankle) and Anthony Bennett (ankle), while Kevin Garnett (knee) is doubtful.

The Lakers aren't much better, having lost five in a row. 

Jeremy Lin (knee) is questionable. If he doesn't play, Jabari Brown is likely to get his second start of the season.

Wayne Ellington (shoulder), Ronnie Price (elbow), Nick Young (knee), Kobe Bryant (shoulder) and Julius Randle (knee) are all out for the season.

Key matchup

The Wolves have the presumptive rookie of the year in Andrew Wiggins, along with UCLA guard Zach LaVine.

Both are explosive, although Wiggins is far more consistent, averaging 16.7 points a game.

LaVine is scoring 9.3 points a night, but is averaging 18.7 through three games against the Lakers, including his career high of 28 in late November.

The Lakers boast one of the season's top rookies in Jordan Clarkson, averaging 15.3 points, 4.8 assists and 4.2 rebounds as a starter through 35 games.

If Brown starts, it'll make three rookie starters for the Lakers, along with Tarik Black and Clarkson.


Kevin Martin is Minnesota's leading scorer this year at 20.3 points a game -- although he's only made 36 appearances.

Martin is a serious outside threat at 38.8% from behind the three-point arc.

The Lakers' top two scorers are out (Bryant and Young), and neither Carlos Boozer nor Jordan Hill has played in recent games while Coach Byron Scott goes with younger players.

After Lin's 11.2 points a game, Wesley Johnson is the team's next-highest scorer at 9.8 a night.


As poorly as the Lakers have played of late, the team should be able to take out the depleted Timberwolves.

Email Eric Pincus at Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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