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Lakers falter in the fourth quarter and fall to Timberwolves, 112-111

Lakers center Roy Hibbert gets hit in the face as he is fouled by Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng in the third quarter.

Lakers center Roy Hibbert gets hit in the face as he is fouled by Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng in the third quarter.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Kobe Bryant set an NBA record Tuesday night, playing in his 20th consecutive season with the Lakers, but the team fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 112-111, on opening night at Staples Center.

Bryant passed John Stockton’s 19 seasons with the Utah Jazz. San Antonio’s Tim Duncan also joined Stockton at 19 on Tuesday with the Spurs.

In his first game since a shoulder injury shut him down in January of last season, Bryant led the Lakers with 24 points in 29 minutes.

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The Lakers had a 16-point lead gradually dwindle to seven points after three quarters, then to a nine-point deficit with just over two minutes left. A late flurry made it interesting, with Lou Williams making a three-point basket with 31.6 seconds left to close the Lakers to within a point.

Kevin Martin missed a jump shot but, after a timeout, Williams’ runner down the lane hit the back of the rim and bounced out.

Ricky Rubio and Martin carried the Timberwolves with 28 and 23 points, respectively. Rubio had a game-high 14 assists.

The game featured the matchup of the NBA’s first two picks in June’s NBA draft. Minnesota’s top pick, center Karl-Anthony Towns, had 14 points and 12 rebounds.

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Second pick D’Angelo Russell contributed four points, three rebounds and two assists in his debut with the Lakers.

Julius Randle was strong in only the second regular-season game of his career after breaking a leg in last season’s opener against the Houston Rockets. He finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Williams gave the Lakers 21 points off the bench. Starting center Roy Hibbert had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Jordan Clarkson and Nick Young each scored 14 points.

The Lakers’ second unit helped build a double-digit lead in the first half but also let the Timberwolves back in the game in the second half.

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The Lakers made 37.6% of their shots from the field and 25.7% (nine of 35) from three-point range, but missed only three free throws in 35 tries (91.4%). Minnesota shot 45.8% from the field, 25% (five of 20) from long range and 83.8% (31 of 37) from the free-throw line.

The Timberwolves turned the ball over eight times, the Lakers 14 times.

The Timberwolves, whose longtime coach Flip Saunders died Sunday, next play the Nuggets at Denver. To honor Saunders, the Lakers wore T-shirts during warmups and while on the bench that read “Flip.”

Next up for the Lakers are the Kings at Sacramento on Friday night.

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


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