Butler scores 28 points; Timberwolves beat Lakers
By Mike Cook
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Jimmy Butler scored 28 points and the streaking Minnesota Timberwolves started fast and held off the struggling Los Angeles Lakers 114-96 on Monday night.
Karl-Anthony Towns recorded his 30th double-double of the season with 16 points and 13 rebounds to help Minnesota win for the seventh time in eight games and 10th in 13.
Andrew Wiggins scored 21 points and grabbed a season-high nine rebounds. Gorgui Dieng had 17 points off the bench.
Jordan Clarkson scored 20 points off the bench for the Lakers, who’ve lost seven in a row and 10 of 11. Los Angeles was once again missing three starters: center Brook Lopez (ankle), and guards Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (legal) and Lonzo Ball (shoulder).
Julius Randle scored 15 points and Brandon Ingram had 14 for Los Angeles. Kyle Kuzma, the team’s leading scorer at 17.9 points per game, played just 18 minutes and scored all six of his points in the third quarter.
With its early commanding lead whittled to as little as five points early in the third quarter, the Timberwolves went on a 13-0 run late in the quarter to seemingly put away the Lakers.
Towns started it with a dunk and jumper, and Wiggins added a pair of jumpers. A 3-pointer by Tyus Jones gave Minnesota a 91-72 lead with 1:11 to play.
Los Angeles got within nine early in the fourth before Butler scored the next six Minnesota points to help push the lead to 103-88.
Butler has at least 20 points in eight straight games.
After scoring a franchise-best first 17 points Sunday against the Pacers, Minnesota nearly broke the record.
Wiggins scored nine points as the Timberwolves’ jumped out to a 16-0 lead. He also added an alley-oop feed for a dunk by Butler and grabbed a couple rebounds.
Los Angeles, which had eight turnovers in the opening 12 minutes, got within 30-18 by quarter’s end. All Lakers’ points came from the bench after the starters were pulled 3:36 into the game.
Lakers: Los Angeles wore its light blue throwback uniforms with MPLS on front. . Ball (left shoulder sprain) missed his fifth straight game. … Caldwell-Pope likely missed his last road game due to a legal travel restriction stemming from a March 2017 incident. The Lakers are not away from Staples Center until Jan. 13.
Timberwolves: Towns had four fouls — three were offensive. . Minnesota is 11-1 at Target Center against Western Conference foes; 2-5 vs. Eastern Conference teams.
Lakers: Open a five-game homestand Wednesday against Oklahoma City.
Timberwolves: At Brooklyn Wednesday.