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Wolves at Lakers: Who Wants it Less?

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A late game between two lottery teams in March! Whee!

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Minnesota Timberwolves Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Wolves at Lakers
9:30 pm CST
FS North

Welp. A late March game from the West Coast between two teams going nowhere.

That’s entertainment!

On November 30th, the Lakers beat the Bulls to move to a surprising 10-10 on the season with a very young roster and first time head coach Luke Walton. Since then, it’s been a death march: They currently sit at 20-51, though to be fair they gave up trying to win a while ago. The Lakers have tumbled to the bottom of the Western Conference and have the second worst record in the NBA as they desperately try to hang on to their draft pick, which, if it falls outside the top three, goes to the Sixers.

They have myriad problems, but chief among them is their league-worst defensive rating. They cannot stop anyone, and that problem has only been exacerbated by their focus on playing the youngsters at the expense of now shut-down vets like Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov, both of whom signed large free agent contracts last summer that now look like albatrosses.

Walton has recently decided to pair D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson together in the starting lineup in order to create a lineup with multiple ball-handlers, scorers, and passers, to take the pressure off any one player to make plays. As this recent Ringer article discusses, it appears to be freeing up Russell offensively—he went for 40 against the Cavs the other night, mostly off pick-and-rolls.

The defense is another matter. Neither Russell nor Clarkson are capable of stopping people, and with skinny rookie Brandon Ingram and poor defender Julius Randle at the forward spots, the defense is a catastrophe, something Wolves fans know all about. In fact, it is not an entirely dissimilar situation to the one the Wolves were in two years ago, when rookies Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine were getting lots of playing time and the Wolves could not guard anyone.

At any rate, the Lakers have no real interest in winning, while I imagine the Wolves would still value finishing as strong as possible. As much as it might make sense to scale back the minutes for the core players over the last dozen games, Thibs has shown no indication he’s going to do so. My feelings are pretty known on this: Don’t tank. Make winning a priority. That said, I also suggested yesterday that the minutes seem to be catching up with them, so I’d like to see that ease up and reduce the injury risk as we head down the stretch.

Anywho, I’ve probably written enough about this game that nobody will watch because even if you are awake, there’s a USMNT qualifier (vs. Honduras) and the NCAA tournament (meh, but go Badgers!) at the same time.

Expected Lineups

Lakers

Jordan Clarkson
D’Angelo Russell
Brandon Ingram
Julius Randle
Ivica Zubac

Wolves

Ricky Rubio
Brandon Rush
Andrew Wiggins
Gorgui Dieng
Karl-Anthony Towns

Our blogging buddies today are over at Silver Screen and Roll. Be excellent.

We’ll be back later with a game thread. Meanwhile, chat about whatever comes to mind. Within reason.