Age vs. experience is an eternal battle in the NBA, and the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 108-103 loss to the Lakers in Los Angeles Sunday night certainly seems to mark a win on the side of age.
Minnesota’s inability to maintain a consistent focus throughout carried all the trappings of youth and the Lakers — the oldest team in the NBA — capitalized.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Key takeaways from loss to Los Angeles Lakers
The biggest blemish of the Wolves’ loss was the final eight minutes of the game, a stretch where the visiting team squandered many opportunities to take control by committing eight turnovers.
Many of those giveaways were flat-out careless, and they took the wind out of Minnesota’s sails even as Los Angeles’s own mistakes kept the Wolves in the game.
The Wolves’ concentration was iffy from a sloppy start that saw the Lakers take a 31-24 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Wolves dominated the next 16 minutes to take a six-point lead early in the third quarter only to throw it away by drifting through the rest of the game.
“We’re a young team, so we’ve got a lot of learning to do,” Jaylen Nowell said on Wolves Live Postgame. “But I think that’s the answer: I think we need to learn from these mistakes. The more we learn and the quicker we learn, the more we’ll be able to stay in these games and pull out wins.
“I think we just need to be locked in way more. There’s times where we were just definitely locked out.”
The loss stings all the more because the Wolves wasted good performances in crucial areas. They dominated the Lakers around the basket, out-rebounding L.A. 56-28 — including 20-4 on the offensive glass — and winning points in the paint 58-32, but they also gave up 29 free throw attempts and shot just 9-of-38 from three.
LeBron James continued his recent stretch of strong play with a line of 26-7-5 while Russell Westbrook and Malik Monk combined for 42 points on 15-of-30 shooting.
This was a very winnable game for a Wolves team down two of their three best players, and blowing an opportunity like that is a hard pill to swallow.