The Los Angeles Lakers got back to .500 with a 108-103 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday.
LeBron James led the way with 26 points as Los Angeles improved to 19-19. It ends his streak of seven straight 30-point games. Malik Monk added 22 points and Russell Westbrook had 20.
It was a revenge victory for the Lakers, as they lost the previous two meetings against the Timberwolves earlier this season. The two teams will meet one more time this year in March.
The Timberwolves fell to 16-20 after their third straight loss. Naz Reid had a season-high 23 points to go with 11 rebounds.
Minnesota was playing without star big man Karl-Anthony Towns and point guard D'Angelo Russell, who are both in the NBA's health and safety protocols.
F LeBron James, LAL: 26 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals
G Malik Monk, LAL: 22 points
G Russell Westbrook, LAL: 20 points, 9 turnovers
C Naz Reid, MIN: 23 points, 11 rebounds
G Anthony Edwards, MIN: 18 points, 7 rebounds
G Jaylen Nowell, MIN: 17 points (off bench)
Lakers Win Despite Sloppy Game
Despite playing at home, Los Angeles looked uncomfortable all night and played with a lack of discipline. The team's messy play allowed Minnesota to keep the game competitive.
The Lakers had 11 turnovers in the first half with seven of them coming from Russell Westbrook alone. They also did a horrible job of finishing defensive possessions, allowing the Timberwolves to get offensive rebounds and dominate inside. Los Angeles entered the fourth quarter trailing by two against a team playing without two of its best players.
But the Lakers were able to get timely buckets and stops to put the game away. Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony combined for 17 points in the fourth quarter. Defensive specialist Avery Bradley did a solid job slowing down Minnesota's backcourt players.
It was a much-needed win to get the team back on track, but the Lakers should not be satisfied with it. Los Angeles was outrebounded 56-28, finished with 16 turnovers and surrendered 58 points in the paint and 20 second-chance points.
The Lakers will have to clean things up going forward to truly compete against the elite teams in the Western Conference.
Timberwolves Utilize Size Advantage, Doomed by Poor Shooting
In the previous meeting between the two teams, the Lakers lost Anthony Davis to a sprained MCL. With no Davis to worry about, the Timberwolves had a clear advantage inside and made the most of it.
The Lakers had no answer for Reid, who was a menace in the Timberwolves' pick-and-roll offense. Reid had 17 of his 23 points in the first half.
Minnesota punished Los Angeles on the glass all night. The Timberwolves did a great job crashing the boards for second-chance opportunities. Five of Reid's 11 rebounds came on the offensive glass. Jarred Vanderbilt also added 12 rebounds.
Minnesota has now won the rebounding battle by at least 10 in each of the three meetings against the Lakers this season.
But the Timberwolves were done in by abysmal shooting. They finished 9-of-38 (23.7 percent) from beyond the arc. The absence of Towns and Russell was glaring down the stretch as Minnesota struggled to run quality offense. The team finished the game with 23 turnovers.
The Timberwolves had a chance to steal another win over the Lakers, but the team's terrible shooting proved too much to overcome.
The Lakers will go for their third straight win when they host the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday. The Timberwolves will stay in Los Angeles to take on the Clippers on Monday.