LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles Lakers clinched the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference after defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves in overtime, 108-102 on Tuesday, April 11 at Crypto.com Arena. The Lakers will face the No. 2 seed Memphis Grizzlies and Ja Morant in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
Although LeBron James has gone on record proclaiming his disdain for the NBA Play-In Tournament, the Lakers provided classic moments for fans of the Purple and Gold. They build a commanding 15-point lead over the T’Wolves in the second half.
Dennis Schroder scored 21 points, drilling a clutch 3-pointer on a pass from James with 1.4 seconds left in regulation before icing the win with two free throws with 8.4 seconds remaining in the extra session for the Lakers. They started the season 2-10 and sat six games below .500 at the trade deadline.
Minnesota has a knack for blowing big leads- leading the NBA with 19 losses after having a 10-point lead. It was a sloppy, fierce matchup in which both teams made critical errors down the stretch.
When Schroder buried the potential game winner with 1.4 seconds left, everyone thought the game was over.
Anthony Davis implored his teammates not to foul the shooter, and inexplicably fouled Mike Conley on a desperation three with 0.1 seconds left in regulation. The Timberwolves forced overtime when Conley hit his free throws after the foul.
Davis and James said they had a mix-up about who was supposed to defend the shooter in the corner. “That was totally on me,” said Davis, who had 24 points and 15 rebounds.
With the T’Wolves confidence shattered, the Lakers pedigree combined with their playoff experience signaled winning time for the Lakers.
Another sloppy aspect of this nail-biter game was the questionable officiating.
Fans at Crypto.com Arena were shaking the rafters loud, hollering at the referees for their calls. LA sports fans have a notorious reputation for being blasé, quiet fans. More interested with their cell phones and spotting celebrities, rather than paying attention to the game being played.
This stereotype proved to be blatantly false, a big assist goes to the 20,000 passionate Laker fans, who never quit believing the Lakers would find a way to win.
Minnesota went scoreless for six minutes in the fourth quarter. Los Angeles began its comeback after Karl Anthony Towns had to sit with his fifth foul, and took the lead on a 3-pointer on the opening possession of overtime by Rui Hachimura, who had 12 points.
James had 30 points and 10 rebounds, while Davis had 24 points to go alongside 15 rebounds.
The first game will take place on Sunday, April 16 at 12 p.m. at FedExForum on ABC.