The Minnesota Timberwolves took out six games of frustration on the Lakers in one quarter Friday in their 107-83 victory at Staples Center.
Karl-Anthony Towns exploded for 18 points on the strength of four triples as the Wolves went 15 for 24 from the field and 7 for 13 from 3-point range in a 40-point offensive quarter.
And yet they were more impressive on the other end. Minnesota came out of the halftime break with the defensive effort it displayed for the first couple games of the campaign.
As a result, the Lakers shot 4 for 21 from the field and 1 for 13 from 3-point range. They scored 12 points all quarter.
Minnesota trailed 49-44 coming out of the locker room. By the end of the third frame, the Wolves led by 23.
That lead grew to as big as 33 in the fourth frame, as Minnesota continued to pour it on the LeBron James-less Lakers (7-6). James missed his fifth straight game with an abdominal issue.
But Anthony Davis was still in action. The Lakers’ big man dominated the first half of play, but Minnesota rendered him and all of his teammates moot over the game’s final 24 minutes.
Towns was the big who starred in the second half. He was unconscious from 3-point range, pulling the trigger on a number of deep, deep looks without hesitation, and knocking them down.
At one point the Timberwolves had to inbound the ball under their own hoop with just 0.5 seconds remaining on the shot clock. The Wolves inbounded to Towns, who quickly fired off a triple. Splash.
It was that kind of half for Minnesota (4-7), who finally ended a six-game losing streak that has re-written the narrative on its early season in all the wrong ways after a 3-1 start to the season.
The things the Wolves did in the second half Friday — knocking down shots and playing with intensity and purpose on the defensive end — are what can get them back on track.
Towns finished with 29 points. D’Angelo Russell finished with 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Patrick Beverley, who provided the initial spark early in the third quarter that lit the second-half flame, had 11 points and seven rebounds.
Timberwolves coach Chris Finch was confident ahead of Friday’s game that would be the case.
“I have every confidence that we’ll turn this around,” Finch said Friday morning. “We have 72 more games. I still like the way that we’re playing hard and competing.”
Finch and a number of players pointed to the team’s second-half effort in its loss Wednesday to Golden State, where the Wolves chipped away at the Warriors’ lead on a number of occasions. That type of performance, they noted, was a positive sign that they could carry forward.
They were right for one evening. Now, can Minnesota deliver a similar performance in the same building Saturday against the Clippers?
That would provide more convincing evidence that a season revival is indeed underway.