The Lakers were finally a favorite, drawing the young, struggling and injured Timberwolves, and yet they still couldn’t get the win.
After building an 11-point lead in the first half, the Lakers let the Timberwolves score at will. A run spurred on by Nick Young seemed to give the Lakers a safe lead at eight points with just less than five minutes left.
Instead, Mo Williams hit back-to-back three-pointers, followed by a layup to tie the score at 117-117.
Kobe Bryant missed a pair of free throws with just more than a minute left. Thaddeus Young’s banking hook shot put Minnesota ahead, but Bryant hit a jumper over Andrew Wiggins, the 2014 first overall draft pick with 5.6 seconds left.
Needing one defensive stand, Nick Young fouled Thaddeus Young, who split a pair at the free-throw line.
Bryant had a very clean look at a three-pointer at the buzzer, but the shot hit the front of the rim, bounced off the backboard and failed to fall -- but the Lakers did.
Minnesota got the victory despite playing without Ricky Rubio (ankle), Kevin Martin (wrist), Nikola Pekovic (wrist) and Ronny Turiaf (hip).
The Lakers have their share of injuries as well with Xavier Henry (Achilles’ tendon), Ryan Kelly (hamstring), Steve Nash (back) and Julius Randle (leg) all out.
Rookie Zach LaVine was the game’s leading scorer with a career-high 28 points. Williams finished with 25 and Young added 22 for Minnesota.
The Timberwolves shot 57% from the field and 55.6% (10 of 18) from three-point range.
The Lakers were led by Bryant’s 26 points. Jeremy Lin had a double-double with 18 points and 11 assists.
Wesley Johnson added 19 points, Nick Young 16 and Carlos Boozer 15.
The Lakers shot 53.9% from the field and 38.1% (8 of 21) from behind the arc in falling to 3-13 on the season. They’ll host the Toronto Raptors (13-3) on Sunday at Staples Center.
The Timberwolves (4-10) next visit the Portland Trail Blazers (12-4), also on Sunday.
Lakers 96, Timberwolves 93 (end of third quarter)
The poor defense in the first half transitioned into awful defense in the third quarter.
The Timberwolves scored 39 points in the third quarter to the Lakers’ 38, trimming the deficit to just three heading into the fourth quarter.
Earlier in the game, the Lakers led by 11 points.
Zach LaVine padded his career high, scoring 28 points in 17 minutes on 11-for-13 shooting. Thaddeus Young scored 19, Mo Williams 17 and both Corey Brewer and Anthony Bennett 11. Minnesota shot 58.3% from the field.
The Lakers, who have made 56.7% of their shots, have been led by Kobe Bryant with 22 points while Jeremy Lin has notched a double-double with 18 points and 10 assists. Wesley Johnson added 17 points and Carlos Boozer 15.
Lakers 58, Timberwolves 54 (halftime)
Former UCLA Bruin and rookie guard Zach LaVine tallied a season-high 18 points in 11 minutes, helping the Timberwolves erase much of an 11-point lead for the Lakers.
The Lakers got into foul trouble when both Ed Davis and Nick Young picked up their third fouls early in the second quarter. Neither team played much defense in the quarter, or in the first half for that matter.
Kobe Bryant leads the Lakers with 13 points. Jeremy Lin, Wesley Johnson and Carlos Boozer each have nine for the Lakers, who shot 57.5% from the field.
The Timberwolves, who made 51.2% of their shots, got 11 points from Mo Williams and nine from Anthony Bennett.
Lakers 30, Timberwolves 23 (end of the first quarter)
The Lakers led for most of the first quarter, taking advantage of the injured Timberwolves to finish with a seven-point lead.
Kobe Bryant, guarded by Andrew Wiggins, the 2014 top overall ddraft pick, scored 12 points on five-of-six shooting. Wiggins had three points, missing four of his five shots.
Mo Williams, who was questionable becuase of an illness, was able to suit up and quickly scored 11 points for the Timberwolves. Anthony Bennett added five off the bench as Minnesota shot 40% from the field.
The Lakers, who made 60.0% of their shots, also received six points from Carlos Boozer and four from Jordan Hill.
The Lakers (3-12) draw one of the rare sub-.500 teams on Friday night, hosting the Minnesota Timberwolves (3-10) at Staples Center.
Like the Lakers, Minnesota is dealing with a number of injuries -- Ricky Rubio (ankle), Mo Williams (illness), Kevin Martin (wrist), Nikola Pekovic (wrist) and Ronny Turiaf (hip) are out or questionable.
The Lakers will be without Xavier Henry (Achilles), Ryan Kelly (hamstring), Steve Nash (back) and Julius Randle (leg).
For an in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers at Minnesota Timberwolves.