After a season full of ups and downs, the Los Angeles Lakers are officially a playoff team. They failed to make the playoffs outright, but after a grueling battle, they took down the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first game of the Play-In Tournament, establishing themselves as the seven seed.
Minnesota had a massive lead early in the game, but the Lakers battled all the way back to force overtime and pick up the win. In the final moments of regulation, LeBron James drove the basketball to the hoop and kicked it out to Dennis Schroder, who hit a go-ahead shot. After the game, he spoke about the moment.
“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. It’s unfortunate that AD [Anthony Davis] had a brain fart and messed his game-winner up.”
Unfortunately for the Lakers, the Timberwolves managed to tie the game. On the ensuing possession after Schroder’s big-time shot, Davis fouled Mike Conley on a three-point attempt, and the Timberwolves guard nailed all three free throws. Davis apologized to Schroder after the game for ruining his game-winner.
“I messed his game-winner up. I apologize. I apologize,” Davis said.
Missed opportunity aside, the fact of the matter is that the Lakers won, and now, their fans will get to witness playoff basketball for the first time in two seasons. The Lakers will take on the two-seeded Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs.
Jarred Vanderbilt Helping Anthony Davis Crucial
As the Lakers get ready for a playoff run, everybody on the roster will have to be on their A-game. They barely squeaked by the Timberwolves, so nothing will come easy.
According to Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report, when the team is at full strength, they are a title contender. However, a big part of that hinges on Jarred Vanderbilt’s ability to take pressure off of Davis on the defensive end of the floor.
“The sample size is minuscule, but L.A. looks like a bona fide title contender when LeBron and AD are on the floor with D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves and Jarred Vanderbilt,” Bailey wrote. “Russell and Reaves provide the kind of floor spacing the Lakers were severely lacking before the trade deadline, and Vanderbilt spares Davis from plenty of dirty work.”
Darvin Ham Sounds Off on Tristan Thompson
“What he brings, his spirit, his positivity, as well as the way he’s played, years and years of championship-level basketball, championship pedigree. Great guy to be around. Great teammate. I’ve heard nothing but great things about him,” Ham said. “And having coached against him for a bunch of years, he and I have always had a great rapport throughout his career. I’m a big fan of him. I watched him back when he was playing at Texas, but just another great guy to add a serviceable player if we need to go in that direction.”