Kurt Helin

Associated Press

Wiggins scores 47 to lead Timberwolves over Lakers, 125-99

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Andrew Wiggins: 47.

All five Los Angeles Lakers starters: 47.

Wiggins hit 14 of 21 shots to blow past his previous career high of 36, leading the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 125-99 victory over the Lakers on Sunday night.

“I’m finding myself, finding things I’m good at and things I need to work on,” said Wiggins, nine games into his third season in the league. “The game has kind of slowed down for me a little bit. I’m able to read defenses better now and see how the defense is set.”

Wiggins hit 17 of 22 free throws and Nemanja Bjelica added a career-high 24 points and eight rebounds for the Timberwolves, who played without starting guard Zach LaVine and reserve forward Shabazz Muhammad. Both missed the game with sore right knees.

Lou Williams scored 13 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter for the Lakers, who got 47 points from their starters and 52 from their bench. Julius Randle had 14 points and six rebounds and Jordan Clarkson scored 14.

“You let a player as good as him get an additional 22 free chances on that, one he’s going to score a lot and two he’s going to get hot because he’s in a rhythm from all the free throws he’s shooting,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “We couldn’t really contain him tonight.”

Wiggins was a team-best plus-34 in 41 minutes, and LaVine showered his close friend with Gatorade during his postgame television interview. The Wolves went 13 of 27 from 3-point range, many of them clean shots coming after the defense collapsed on Wiggins.

“I think he’s just scratching the surface,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I think he can do a lot more.”

The game featured two of the most promising young cores in the league, with Wiggins, LaVine and Karl-Anthony Towns hoping to end Minnesota’s 12-year playoff drought and D'Angelo Russell, Randle and Brandon Ingram reviving the Lakers in the post-Kobe era.

Entering the season, the Lakers were believed to be a step behind the Wolves in the process, but they won six of their first 10 games while Minnesota got off to a disappointing 2-6 start.

Both teams played on Saturday night, but the Wolves were finishing a rare home back-to-back, and appeared to have the fresher legs all night. The Timberwolves scored 21 points off of 17 Lakers turnovers.

TIP-INS

Lakers: C Timofey Mozgov was in foul trouble all game, playing just 15 minutes before fouling out. … Ingram played after being listed as questionable with a sprained ankle suffered on Saturday night in New Orleans. Ingram finished with 10 points in 26 minutes. … The Lakers wrapped up their three-game road trip at 2-1.

Timberwolves: Wiggins scored a career-high 25 points in the first half. … F Brandon Rush missed his fourth straight game, and coach Tom Thibodeau revealed that Rush has been dealing with a bruised big toe on his right foot.

BJELICA STARTS

With LaVine injured, Thibodeau inserted the 6-foot-10 Bjelica, normally a power forward, into the lineup at small forward and moved Wiggins to shooting guard. The former Euroleague MVP made five 3s and also had three steals and a block.

“I thought he played a beautiful game tonight,” Thibodeau said. “He made really good decisions.”

LAKERS BENCH

The second unit has been a strength for the Lakers all season, averaging 52.1 points per game in the first 10. The leading scorer from the game has come from their bench in eight of 11 games so far this season.

“No excuse,” Russell said of playing three games on the road in four nights. “We just lost.”

TOWNS STRUGGLES

Towns finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds, but he really had to work for it. The reigning rookie of the year made 7 of 22 shots, including just 6 of 10 free throws.

 

Watch Serge Ibaka hit game winner vs. his former team Thunder

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Serge Ibaka‘s baseline jumper with less than a second remaining gave the Orlando Magic a 119-117 win over Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night.

Ibaka, who was traded from the Thunder to the Magic in the offseason, scored a career-high 31 points and added nine rebounds and four blocks.

With the score tied in the final minute, Westbrook missed a pull-up jumper, and Orlando rebounded and called timeout with 11 seconds remaining to set up Ibaka’s winner with 0.4 seconds left.

Westbrook finished with 41 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds for his third triple-double of the season and 40th of his career. The Thunder had won 20 straight when Westbrook tallied a triple-double.

Elfrid Payton scored 23 points and Evan Fournier added 21 for the Magic, who snapped a three-game losing streak.

It was the third straight loss for the Thunder, all at home, after a 6-1 start.

Oklahoma City’s Victor Oladipo, who came to the Thunder in the Ibaka deal, scored 12 points.

The Magic led by 21 in the second quarter and were up 57-47 at halftime. Ibaka scored 19 points before the break to match Westbrook’s 19 points.

The Thunder rallied late in the third quarter. A putback by Enes Kanter with 1:35 left in the third quarter tied the game at 80. Oklahoma City led 84-82 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Thunder had one last shot after Ibaka’s jumper, but Nick Collison couldn’t quite connect on a lob to Westbrook.

 

Alvin Gentry pokes fun at Luke Walton’s tardy pre-game habits

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Saturday night, before the hot Lakers went into New Orleans and trounced the struggling Pelicans, old friends Alvin Gentry and Luke Walton shared a laugh. The two respective head coaches for the game are friends who served as fellow assistants under Steve Kerr as the Warriors went on to win the NBA title in 2015.

In his pregame press conference, Gentry used something Walton used to do in those days to poke fun of the Lakers’ coach, via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.

“It’d be six minutes on the clock before the game started and he was walking around in his underwear in the locker room,” Gentry said, laughing. “We shook our head all the time.”

Gentry and Warriors coach Steve Kerr teased Walton all the time. So much that Walton said it happened “every game.” Walton then vowed he would change his routine. But Kerr told him, “Don’t you dare change who you are.”

“We all had some good laughs about it. It was good memories,” Walton said. “It was part of the fun. It was a good group to work with up there.”

For the most part, it was a love fest between Gentry and Walton, who sounded like they had formed a mutual admiration society.

At least until the game started. The first half was close, but the Lakers’ starters went on a 14-0 third quarter run that blew the game open (the Lakers’ starters were +11 on the night). The Laker trio of Lou Williams, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. were +19 in 19 minutes, and the Pelicans had no answer for them. The Lakers won by 27 to improve to 6-4 on the season, while the Pelicans fell to 1-9.

Report: Rockets’ Patrick Beverley could return next week

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James Harden has played like an MVP candidate — 30.6 points and 13 rebounds a game — and the Rockets’ offense under new coach Mike D’Antoni is a machine scoring 107.6 points per 100 possessions (according to NBA.com).

But they hover around .500 (5-4) because they are giving up 107.8 per 100, the third worst defense in the NBA.

Maybe the return of Patrick Beverley will help that, and we could see that this week, reports Calvin Watkins of ESPN.

Rockets starting guard Patrick Beverley said he practiced Friday and expects to return this coming week from left knee surgery.

Beverley didn’t say which game would be his season debut in, but he proclaimed he’s completely healthy. The Rockets’ first game this coming week is Monday against the Philadelphia 76ers.

“I feel very good, excited, can’t wait to play,” Beverley said Saturday. “I can’t wait to play with my teammates. I missed them a lot. I missed being on the road and team camaraderie a lot. I missed playing basketball and missed competing.”

Beverley is a physical, attacking on-ball defender and last season the Rockets’ defense was better with him on the court (2.1 per 100). He likely will come off the bench at first, and while he’s not a dynamic playmaker by any stretch the Rockets’ offense is abysmal when Harden sits, maybe Beverley can help stabilize it. But he could become a starter again — Beverley can shoot the three and there can’t be enough shooters on the court in D’Antoni’s system, plus we know he has chemistry with Harden.

Brandon Jennings fined $15,000 for saying magical words to referee

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Brandon Jennings was frustrated at the end of the Knicks getting thumped by the Celtics Friday night. Like all the Knicks were.

Jennings was ejected  with 3:20 left in the fourth after saying some magical words to the official, then he didn’t leave the court quickly.

That’s going to cost him $15,000, the league announced the fine Sunday.

That likely will not be the last frustration fine the Knicks end up with this season.