Lakers News: Wolves Make Final Call on Rudy Gobert’s Status for Play-In

Rudy Gobert

Getty Rudy Gobert of the Minnesota Timberwolves has been suspended.

The Los Angeles Lakers will not be seeing Rudy Gobert when they face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday in the play-in tournament with a postseason spot on the line.

Gobert threw a punch at teammate Kyle Anderson during a timeout in the Timberwolves’ regular-season finale against the New Orleans Pelicans. Gobert did not finish the game and the suspension was announced on Monday.

“The Timberwolves had to suspend Gobert for throwing a punch, but accepted that it was a shot to chest with no intent to injure Kyle Anderson and understood that Anderson called Gobert a ‘bi**h’ repeatedly on a night Gobert was playing hurt,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted.

The Timberwolves gave up a massive haul to land Gobert this offseason, including now-Lakers Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt, along with Patrick Beverley, Leandro Bolmaro, Walker Kessler and four first-round picks.

Gobert apologized for the incident on social media.

“Emotions got the best of me today,” Gobert tweeted. “I should not have reacted the way I did regardless of what was said. I wanna apologize to the fans, the organisation and particularly to Kyle, who is someone that i truly love and respect as a teammate.”

Timberwolves Will Also Be Missing Jaden McDaniels

Gobert is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and his absence in a must-win game is a huge boost for the Lakers as they look to lock up their return to the postseason after a year away.

The Timberwolves will also be without breakout forward Jaden McDaniels, who fractured his hand against the Pelicans on Sunday by punching a wall in frustration. Both McDaniels and Gobert average over 30 minutes per game and are key players on the defensive end for Minnesota.

“Certainly, immaturity has been one of our issues all season,” Wolves coach Chris Finch said. “We’ve been immature at the wrong times. Probably points to why we’re 3-9 or 3-10 against some of the teams that we should be better against.

“But those days are gone. We got to focus now on what we got and what we’re getting moving forward. I guess we play the Lakers, so we got to head out there.”

Lakers Hitting Stride Heading Into Matchup With Wolves

The Lakers get to stay at home for the play-in matchup against Minnesota and are rolling, have won nine of their last 11 games. It’s a short turnaround but LeBron James has urged his guys to stay on “edge.”

“Obviously it’s different because usually in the postseason you have multiple days of prep for a team. But you literally have one day to prep,” James said. “But you’re kind of locked in on everything that needs to be done. For us, it’s just good that we don’t need to travel. We’ve traveled a lot lately. It’s good that we get to stay here, but we shouldn’t be comfortable. We have to stay on edge and get ready for the game.”

While the Wolves will be shorthanded, James and Co. are not taking them lightly considering the other weapons Minnesota has in its arsenal.

“It’s a challenge versus everybody, and Minnesota is no different,” James said. “When you got guys like KAT [Karl-Anthony Towns] and Anthony Edwards, those guys can both go for 40 against you. … You have a very cerebral, solid point guard in Mike Conley who’s been in multiple playoff games. So, listen, we know what we’re getting ourselves into.”

The Lakers are a 7.5-point favorite for the matchup, with the total set at 229.5.

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