Timberwolves celebrate Christmas with a win over Lakers
LOS ANGELES - Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler scored 24 points apiece and the MinnesotaTimberwolves continued their best start in 14 years with a 121-104 victory against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Monday night.
Karl-Anthony Towns had 21 points and 10 rebounds and Jamal Crawford contributed 19 points off the bench for Minnesota (21-13), which shot a season-high 58.3 percent from the floor.
The previous best 34-game start for the Timberwolves was 23-11 in the 2003-04 season.
Kyle Kuzma made 6 of 11 3-pointers and scored 31 points to lead the Lakers. Jordan Clarkson added 17 points and Julius Randle scored 16 off the bench.
The Lakers scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to take an 84-83 lead, but Towns followed with two three-point plays in a 13-0 run that gave Minnesota its biggest lead at 96-84 with 8:56 left.
The Lakers (11-21) couldn't pull any closer than six the rest of the way.
Los Angeles played without three starters, rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, second-year small forward Brandon Ingram and veteran center Brook Lopez.
Ball injured his left shoulder against the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday and an MRI revealed a sprain that will sideline him at least a week. Ingram missed his second straight game with a right quad contusion and left quad tendinitis, and Lopez his fourth straight with a sprained ankle.
The Lakers rallied from a 10-point deficit in the second quarter to twice take the lead before halftime. Butler's driving layup with nine seconds left gave Minnesota a 53-52 lead it took to the locker room.
Butler made his first seven shots and scored 17 points in the first half on 8-for-10 shooting.
Clarkson missed his first seven shots, but rebounded to make five of his final six of the first half.
The Timberwolves maintained the lead throughout the third quarter, stretching it to as much as nine before taking an 83-80 advantage into the fourth.
NOTES: The Lakers' starting lineup of Jordan Clarkson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma and Andrew Bogut had played zero minutes together prior to Monday's game. The Timberwolves' starting lineup of Taj Gibson, Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jeff Teague and Jimmy Butler had played the most minutes together in the NBA coming into the game. ... None of the starting five for the Lakers on Monday night started the season opener. ... The Lakers have played in 19 straight games on Christmas, while the Timberwolves were making their second all-time appearance. ... Minnesota improved to 10-7 on the road and is one of four teams in the Western Conference with winning records on the road (Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers).