The Los Angeles Lakers fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves 108-106 last night in a dramatic finish that saw LeBron James hit what appeared to be a game-tying three pointer at the buzzer, only for it to be controversially ruled a two pointer after video review. The loss came on James’ 39th birthday and dropped the Lakers to 13-21 on the season.
Lead Up to the Game
The Lakers entered last night’s contest desperately needing a win, having lost three straight and continuing to hover near the bottom of the Western Conference standings. James was looking to celebrate his birthday by getting the Lakers back on track against a talented Timberwolves team led by Anthony Edwards and Rudy Gobert.
This game also marked the return of Timberwolves co-owner Marc Lore, who recently had his purchase agreement to buy the remainder of the team approved by the NBA Board of Governors. Lore’s presence seemed to energize the Target Center crowd.
Back-and-Forth Battle Down to the Wire
The game lived up to its billing, with 14 lead changes and no team ever leading by double digits. Edwards was spectacular, scoring 31 points to lead Minnesota. James had a triple-double for LA with 28 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.
Anthony Davis also had a big game in his second contest back from injury, dropping 22 points, manhandling Gobert down low.
Late in the fourth quarter with the score tied, Edwards blew past Austin Reaves for a thunderous dunk over Davis that energized the Wolves and their fans.
|Anthony Edwards Dunk over Anthony Davis
But the Lakers kept answering. James hit a turnaround fadeaway jumper with less than 30 seconds left to put LA up 106-103.
After Gobert split a pair of free throws to make it 106-104, the Wolves got a crucial defensive stop, setting up the controversial finish.
Edwards hit a three pointer with 3.4 seconds remaining to put Minnesota up 107-106. On the ensuing play, James got the inbound pass and launched a last second three that went through the net, apparently tying the game.
However, after video review, the officials controversially ruled James’ toe was on the three point line, turning his shot into a two pointer that left Minnesota with a 108-106 victory.
James was livid with the decision after the game:
“I don’t understand why we’re sitting here with replay to see if I was a 3-point shooter or not,” said James. “I don’t even believe I had my toe on the line but that’s besides the point.”
“What do we have replay for if even the replay gets it wrong too…Anybody that sees the replay with their final eyes, if you look at it would know that’s obviously a freaking 3-point shot.”
Lakers fans also flooded social media claiming the officials botched what should have been called a game-tying three. However, the NBA’s Last Two Minute report upheld the on-court ruling.
Bigger Picture Fallout
The loss highlighted ongoing issues for LA – a lack of outside shooting and poor late game execution outside of relying on James. Their struggles seem likely to continue as they sit 5 games under .500 at the halfway point of the season.
For Minnesota, the victory was a major morale boost. Edwards continues to take his game to new heights, Gobert and KAT are figuring out how to play together, and the team appears to be gelling under new owner Lore. Their playoff prospects look increasingly strong in the crowded West.
This thriller almost certainly isn’t the last time these teams will meet this season. The controversy surrounding the ending will add fuel to the blossoming rivalry the next time LeBron and company visit Minneapolis.
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