Basketball: Rudy Gobert and Wolves send Lakers to fifth straight loss

LOS ANGELES — It’s not hard to pinpoint the National Basketball Association’s worst team so far this season. It comes down to the two teams yet to win a game – the Sacramento Kings and the Los Angeles Lakers – and the Lakers have lost one more than their struggling comrades.

Friday in Minneapolis, Rudy Gobert had 22 points and 21 rebounds for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who beat Los Angeles 111-102. The winless franchise had its worst start to the season since also losing five in a row in 2014-15.

There wasn’t much Lakers star forward LeBron James could say after the loss except that his team needed to keep fighting.

“I think our offense is hurting us right now,” he said on ESPN. “Defensively, again, we had a great game plan. We went out and competed, gave ourselves a chance.

“Couple possessions here, couple possessions there haven’t gone our way, but keep hammering.”

Anthony Edwards scored 29 points and Karl-Anthony Towns had 21 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for Minnesota, which has won three of its last four games. James had 28 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals, while Russell Westbrook had 18 points and eight rebounds off the Lakers bench.

The 2020 NBA champions, who failed in the play-offs last season, are also on track to match their worst start since 1957-58, when they dropped their first seven games.

Lakers coach Darvin Ham, who was without Anthony Davis with a lower back strain, said his team’s 22 turnovers, leading Minnesota to 25 points, were unacceptable.

“When you give them 22 turnovers, 25 points, it’s very difficult to win in this league,” he said.

Towns, meanwhile, said the belief in playing as a team was key to the Timberwolves victory.

“Keep the game simple…keep trusting each other in attack and do whatever the game tells us to do,” he added.

Elsewhere, Donovan Mitchell and Caris LeVert became the first Cleveland teammates to score 40+ points in the same game since 2016.

Their combined 82 points propelled the visiting Cavaliers to a 132-123 overtime win over the Boston Celtics.

Mitchell shot 15 of 26 from the floor, including five of nine from three-point range, on his way to his season-high 41 points. LeVert went 12 of 21 from the floor, six of eight from beyond the arc and 11 of 12 from the free throw line to tie Mitchell’s 41.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 30 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists as the Milwaukee Bucks led most of the way, withstood a tough finish and remained the only undefeated team with a 119-108 home win over New York Knicks. Reuters

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