Before the last-place Lakers hosted the last-place Minnesota Timberwolves, Lakers Coach Byron Scott said the teams had something in common besides having won only three games so far this season.
Minnesota, he said, is a club “we know is going to come in here and look at [playing] us the way we’re looking at them: A very winnable game.”
Turned out it was winnable only for the Timberwolves, who overcame an eight-point deficit late in the game to defeat the Lakers, 120-119, on Friday night at Staples Center.
And Scott was livid after the game when he met with reporters.
“We relaxed [in the fourth quarter] and that’s the game,” Scott said, stopping himself at times from cursing. “We made some bonehead plays.
“Bunch of mental mistakes, bunch of physical mistakes,” he said. “Lack of focus, simple as that.”
The loss dropped the Lakers to 3-13, and a dismal 1-8 at home, while Minnesota improved to 4-10. The Lakers’ worst home record, 14-27, was set last season.
Kobe Bryant had a final chance to win the game after the Lakers inbounded the ball with 2.8 seconds left. Bryant fired a three-point attempt from the middle of the court but it didn’t drop.
“It felt good, it was just a little short,” he said.
Bryant, too, saved his harshest words for the Lakers’ defense. The Lakers led by eight points with five minutes left in the game, only to see the lead vanish.
“Lazy defense,” Bryant said. “We’re shooting ourselves in the foot.”
The team’s balance on offense, at least Friday night, was fine, he added.
While Bryant was scoring a team-high 26 points, the Lakers had four others who scored in double digits: Wesley Johnson (19), Jeremy Lin (18), Nick Young (16) and Carlos Boozer (15). Bryant also had five steals, and Lin had 11 assists.
Young came to life in the fourth quarter, when the former USC Trojan scored 13 points.
Minnesota was led by rookie Zach LaVine, a rookie from UCLA who also was stellar off the bench. LaVine scored a team-high 28 points on 11-for-14 shooting.
Timberwolves rookie forward Andrew Wiggins, 19, the first overall pick in this year’s NBA draft, had the task of often playing against Bryant. Before the game, Timberwolves Coach Flip Saunders was unmoved by the matchup.
Wiggins “was on [Houston star James] Harden for the whole time he was on the floor,” Saunders said. “He was on Carmelo [Anthony, the Knicks’ All-Star], when Carmelo was on the floor. Very rarely do you put a rookie on the other team’s best player. He’s done a pretty good job against those guys.”
But Wiggins had his hands full with Bryant. In the first quarter, Bryant stole the ball from Wiggins, drove to the basket and slammed home a reverse dunk. It was one of three steals for Bryant in the half.
And although Wiggins entered the game with a 12.6-point scoring average, tops among NBA rookies, he managed only three points against the Lakers with one-for-six shooting.
Correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.