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Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, center, goes up for a shot as Minnesota Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose, left, forward Taj Gibson, second from right, and forward Andrew Wiggins watch during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

The Minnesota Timberwolves are still lost on the road.

Minnesota dropped its fourth straight and fell to 0-7 away from home this season with a 114-110 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday at Staples Center. The Purple and Gold avenged their Oct. 29 loss to the Timberwolves and moved to 3-1 in their last four as they attempt to establish more consistency with LeBron James aboard.

James led the way for the victors with 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, while Brandon Ingram (20 points and six assists), Josh Hart (21 points) and Kyle Kuzma (21 points) provided secondary scoring.

Jimmy Butler finished with 24 points, but Derrick Rose spearheaded Minnesota’s effort with 31 points and five assists, helping close the gap from seven to one in the final two minutes with back-to-back three-pointers. However, he missed a potential game-winning three in the final seconds that was tightly contested by Tyson Chandler.

        

Tyson Chandler Perfect Signing to Help Turn Around Lakers

Chandler isn’t going to fill up the box score on a nightly basis like James, but his Lakers debut underscored how valuable of a signing he will be throughout the season.

He finished with just two points but battled for offensive rebounds, kept possessions alive with tips and hustle plays, and set a precedent for some of the younger pieces with nine rebounds despite coming off the bench. He also helped slow down Karl-Anthony Towns (13 points and nine rebounds) after a red-hot start from the Minnesota big and provided the critical defense on Rose’s game-winning attempt.

Los Angeles signed him after he was bought out by the Phoenix Suns, and he provides much-needed answers to some of the lingering questions.

The Lakers entered play an abysmal 23rd in the league in defensive rating, per NBA.com, but Chandler is a three-time All-Defensive selection and won the 2011-12 Defensive Player of the Year. He provides another defensive post presence behind JaVale McGee after bigs such as Nikola Jokic, LaMarcus Aldridge, Serge Ibaka, Deandre Ayton and Clint Capela all found success against Los Angeles’ frontcourt.

What’s more, the 36-year-old veteran won’t obstruct the development of younger players such as Lonzo Ball, Ingram, Kuzma and Hart because he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to contribute. He won’t hesitate to sacrifice his own individual production to facilitate pick-and-rolls or provide defensive toughness, and he already earned the endorsement of The King.

“We love the fact that we’re going to get another veteran,” James said, per Sean Highkin of Uproxx. “A guy who plays hard, a guy who’s very smart and another champion to add to the champions that we have in this system here today so and it adds depth in our frontcourt. Which we have had trouble with at times.”

The Lakers didn’t sign James just to make the playoffs. They need surrounding pieces who will be ready to compete in April and May, and Chandler has 75 playoff games and a championship on his resume.

He isn’t going to carry the team at this stage of his career, but Chandler is an ideal veteran who can slide right into the lineup and address some of the weaknesses.

        

Karl-Anthony Towns’ Aggressiveness Crucial to Timberwolves’ Hopes

The version of Towns that started Wednesday’s game provides hope for the Timberwolves even after a slow start.

Towns was notably aggressive on both ends of the floor, blocking James, dunking over JaVale McGee and feeding Taj Gibson with a perfect pass out of a double-team for a slam. He challenged shots at the rim, extended his attack beyond the arc and stuffed the stat sheet with nine points, four rebounds and three blocks in the first quarter alone.

It was a far cry from the Towns whom Minnesota fans have watched in the early going this season.

The Kentucky product entered this game averaging 18.8 points and 10.3 rebounds a night, looking nothing like the dominant player who appeared well on his way to challenging Anthony Davis and others for the title of best big in the league when he posted 25.1 points and 12.3 rebounds per game in his second season in 2016-17.

The most concerning number from Towns’ first 11 games this season was 13.7—the number of shots he averaged a night.

Not only would that be a career-low mark, but it is also fourth on the Timberwolves and behind even backup point guard Rose (who started Wednesday with Jeff Teague out).

Just when it looked as if Towns turned a corner, he disappeared in the second half and started settling for lackluster looks against Chandler instead of aggressively attacking like he did at the start. The inconsistency reared its ugly head again, and the same questions about his 2018-19 approach were in play.

Towns is the long-term face of the franchise who just signed a multiyear extension in September. He shouldn’t be fourth on the team in shot attempts considering he is Minnesota’s best hope at building a long-lasting contender.

His lack of aggressiveness in light of all the Butler drama and trade requests has proved costly and helps explain the Timberwolves’ slow start and his own drop-off in production. Minnesota would have won Wednesday if he maintained the approach he had in the first quarter.

The Kentucky product was dominant for stretches when he asserted himself early against the Lakers and will need to continue playing that way if his team is going to climb back into what figures to be a crowded Western Conference playoff race.

What’s Next?

Both teams hit the road to face the Sacramento Kings in their next game, with the Timberwolves facing them Friday and the Lakers squaring off with them Saturday.

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