On April 11, the Los Angeles Lakers confirmed their spot in the 2023 NBA Playoffs courtesy of an overtime victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
When speaking to the media after the game, All-Star big man Karl-Anthony Towns credited the Lakers on their win, noting how their in-game adjustments swung the game in their favor.
“Give them credit,” Towns said. “They, from what I can see without watching tape, they changed the game plan and was effective.”
Throughout the second half of the contest, the Lakers confined the Timberwolves to just 14 makes, 7 of them from deep, as they honed in on their defense and looked to increase the pressure their inexperienced counterparts felt.
Towns gave a solid account of himself, finishing the game with a statline of 24 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists while shooting 66.7% from the field and 50% from beyond the arc.
Darvin Ham Discusses Benching D’Angelo Russell
Early in the game, it was clear that it wasn’t going to be D’Angelo Russell‘s night as he struggled to make an impact on both sides of the floor. However, Lakers fans were still surprised when Darvin Ham made the difficult decision to bench his star guard for most of the second half.
When speaking to the media following the game, Ham explained his decision-making while also showing support to Russell ahead of what the Lakers hope will be a deep postseason run.
“You’re gonna have rough nights out here,” Ham said . “I have all the confidence in the world in D-Lo. We’re going to need him on this run that we plan to make. Starting with Game 1 at Memphis. You just got to be able to snap back and bounce back. It’s a long season. Some nights, it’s not going to be your night. Again, that’s why you try to fortify your roster with multiple players who are capable of, once you call their number, they’re able to not just go out there and gobble up minutes, but get minutes and play at a high level. That just happened to be Dennis [Schroder] tonight. But make no mistake about it, we brought D-Lo here to come out here and be D-Lo, and to make plays. So, we’ll sit down, we’ll watch film as a group, and definitely communicate and just let him know that we’re going to need him. This may be a one-off, no doubt about it, but he’s going to be in the thick of things, at the forefront of us having success in the postseason.”
Rusell played just 23 minutes against the Timberwolves, scoring 2 points, providing 8 assists, and grabbing three rebounds on 1-of-9 shooting, which is good for 11.1%.
LeBron James Heaps Praise on Dennis Schroder
With Russell riding the bench down the stretch, Ham turned to Dennis Schroder as his primary point guard, with the veteran hitting what looked to be the game-winning shot with under 10 seconds remaining on the clock.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, Anthony Davis fouled Mike Conley on his final attempt, sending the game into overtime, which Los Angeles ultimately won.
“I’ve been playing the game like that since I was a kid,” James said. “I drew the defense, trust your teammates, and he knocked it down. Unfortunately, AD [Anthony Davis] had a brain fart and messed his game-winner up.”
The Lakers will begin their first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, April 16.