LeBron James’ rehab is progressing, but Lakers are blown out by Timberwolves

Lakers forward Anthony Davis drives past Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns.
The Lakers’ Anthony Davis drives against the Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns on Friday night. Towns had 29 points to lead Minnesota to a 107-83 win. Davis, who scored 22 points, said “we sucked.”
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

The health of LeBron James has improved since he went down with an abdominal strain, leaving the Lakers optimistic about his return.

James was injured when the Lakers played the Houston Rockets on Nov. 2, forcing him to miss five games so far.

Though the Lakers didn’t give a timetable for James’ return, people not authorized to speak on the matter said James would be out “at least a week.” He has been out 10 days.


The rest of the news on Friday night was all bad for the Lakers, their 107-83 beatdown by the Minnesota Timberwolves a horrible display of effort at Staples Center.

LeBron James watches action from the bench in the first half of the Lakers' game against the Timberwolves on Nov. 12, 2021.
Lakers star LeBron James, who missed his fifth straight game while he recovers from an abdominal strain, watches from the bench Friday night.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

The Lakers got down by 33 points in the fourth quarter, their defense nowhere to be found, their offense way off the mark.

They were outscored 40-12 in the third quarter, allowing the Timberwolves to turn a close game into a rout.

“We sucked,” Anthony Davis, who had 22 points and eight rebounds, said about the Lakers’ horrendous third quarter. “No defense. Can’t score. And that’s not just this third quarter. Every third quarter that we play this season, we come out slow, lackadaisical — offensively and defensively.

“We got to get it together. Why? I can’t tell you. But we got to do a better job. We only scored 12 points in the third quarter. They scored 40! That’s the game right there. We have to do a better job coming out in the third.”

The Lakers led 49-44 at the half but completely lost their way in the third quarter.

Malik Monk scored a season-high 27 points Wednesday, including the first five of the Lakers’ eight points in overtime, in a 120-117 win over Miami.

“We got to decide who we want to be,” Davis said. “Championship team — that’s not us right now. We’re not winning a championship the way we’re playing.

“But we got to be better, and we got to care more for our wins at home and wins in general. That was embarrassing to be up five at half. … It was just no effort in the third quarter.”

The Lakers shot 35.4% from the field, 22% from three-point range.

But in that dismal third quarter, the Lakers shot 19% from the field and 7.7% (one for 13) from three-point range.

Their nonexistent defense enabled the Timberwolves to shoot 62.5% from the field, 53.8% from three-point range.

“All of our guys are angry,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “The coaching staff is angry, and we’ll get back to work and do everything we need to do to fix it and get our execution better. All those things — effort, focus, execution.”

Before the Lakers played the Timberwolves, Vogel gave an update on James.

“His rehab is progressing nicely,” Vogel said. “He’s back to doing on-court basketball activity and this does not seem like it’s going to be an extended stretch and he’s to be considered truly ‘day to day.’”

The Lakers host the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday and then the Chicago Bulls on Monday in a back-to-back set before they start a five-game trip Wednesday in Milwaukee.

The Timberwolves' D'Angelo Russell celebrates a second-half basket against the Lakers on Nov. 12, 2021.
The Timberwolves’ D’Angelo Russell (22 points) celebrates a basket against the Lakers, who were outscored 40-12 in the third quarter.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)


Vogel said he saw but hadn’t yet read the email from the NBA in which it advised coaches and players to get the booster shot for COVID-19 “as soon as possible, particularly in light of the current coronavirus situation and increasing cases,” according to a memo obtained by the Associated Press.

Lakers guard Austin Reaves sustained a hamstring injury during Monday’s overtime win over the Charlotte Hornets. He’ll be reevaluated in two weeks.

AP reported that the NBA and the National Basketball Players Assn. recommended that the booster shot be received by those who are fully vaccinated and that it be done by Dec. 1.

The Lakers had said during training camp that they expected to be 100% vaccinated.

“We do have part of our meeting tomorrow with our team is to address something regarding the booster shots,” Vogel said.