Lakers’ struggles without LeBron James continue in T’wolves rout

Lakers' struggles without LeBron James continue in T'wolves rout

The Los Angeles Lakers chose a bad time to have their worst shooting game of the season.

Already stumbling without injured star LeBron James, the Lakers shot a paltry 36.8 percent from the field Sunday and lost a 108-86 rout to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Los Angeles lost its third straight and fell to 1-5 since James went out with a groin injury on Christmas Day.

The Lakers shot their worst overall percentage of the season and were held under 40 percent for just the second time. Their struggles from 3-point range also continued, with the Lakers shooting 5-of-22 from deep (22.7 percent). Los Angeles has shot just 31.9 percent from long range in the six games without James, including under 30 percent in each of the last three.

Minnesota took over early and remained in control throughout. Andrew Wiggins scored 25 of his 28 points in the first half to help the T’wolves build a 64-45 lead at the break. Karl-Anthony Towns dominated inside and stuffed the box score with 28 points, 18 rebounds, four blocks, three assists and two steals.

Lance Stephenson led the Lakers with 14 points off the bench. Brandon Ingram added 13 and Josh Hart had 10, but the youngsters shot a combined 8-of-30 from the floor. The starting five of Ingram, Hart, Lonzo Ball, JaVale McGee and Ivica Zubac were 11-of-41 from the field (26.8 percent) and were out-scored by their T’wolves counterparts 91-34.

James remains sidelined by the strained left groin he suffered in the Lakers’ win over the Golden State Warriors on Christmas. The team announced Friday that he’ll rest for another week before being re-evaluated. James did not travel with the Lakers on the short road trip to Minnesota and Dallas on Monday.

Second-leading scorer Kyle Kuzma missed his second straight game due to a back contusion. He is listed as day-to-day.

The current 1-5 stretch has dropped the Lakers to 21-19 overall and eighth place in the highly competitive Western Conference playoff race. Los Angeles is a game ahead of the ninth-place Utah Jazz and just three ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans in 14th.

Follow Matt Eppers on Twitter @meppers_.

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