A schedule quirk early in the season had the Lakers playing the Warriors three times in the span of 12 games.
Now, as the season draws to a close, the Lakers face the Minnesota Timberwolves three times in nine games. The second of those three meetings ended in a Minnesota win, 119-104.
Here are five takeaways from that game.
1. Without Ivica Zubac for most of the game, the Lakers turned to Tarik Black. Black was their starting center before Zubac. He was the initial player the Lakers used when they removed Timofey Mozgov from the starting lineup nearly two months ago. His chemistry with the first unit carried over from then and Black scored a season-high 15 points.
“He brings high energy, offensive rebounds,” Julius Randle said. “He rolls hard and opens up a lot of things.”
2. The Lakers have finished their games in Minnesota and both times were victims of a career high by one of the young Timberwolves. Andrew Wiggins set a career high of 47 points in their first meeting and guard Ricky Rubio set a career high in this one with 33 points.
3. Rubio’s scoring caused problems for the Lakers. He made open shots early and then later, even when the Lakers were able to force him into tougher shots, made those.
“When he’s knocking down jumpers he makes it real challenging on the defense, especially us where we’re at in our defensive schemes,” Lakers Coach Luke Walton said. “What we try to do is take away one thing. Most scorers it’s taking away scoring. Making them give it up if they don’t want to. Ricky wants to give the ball up. If you commit to taking away his shot, he has no problem making the extra pass. It’s definitely much more challenging when he’s hitting like that.”
5. Corey Brewer returned to the city where he was drafted. He scored 11 points with two assists and two rebounds. Walton said Brewer’s impact this season has been important both on and off the court.
On the court, he likes that his young players see someone who has won championships in college and the NBA play as hard as he does. Off the court, Walton said Brewer does a good job of calling out the young guys “on some of their BS.”
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli