LOS ANGELES—Thanks to a career high 35 points by Jordan Clarkson, and an appearance by Shaquille O’Neal, the Lakers overcame a 15-point deficit to defeat the Timberwolves in overtime 130-119.
Shaq showed up to Staples Center last night for the unveiling of his new statue outside the arena. Although the Lakers trailed throughout most of the night, the presence of the seven foot hall of fame center seemed to electrify the crowd and bring magic in the air that helped the Lakers pull off this thrilling victory.
“There was a better energy in the building because of Shaq,” said Lakers coach Luke Walton who was teammates with the big man for one season in 2003-2004. “We didn’t get to channel that until the second half when the second unit came in and began defending. It definitely brings a little extra.”
Clarkson seemed to feed off of Shaq’s energy the most. Coming off of an atrocious 1-9 shooting performance against the Clippers on Tuesday, Clarkson made a stark turnaround this game. Somehow Clarkson actually managed to shoot better from 3-point shots, then on normal twos, going 5-10 on two pointers and an amazing 8-10 from three. His teammate Larry Nance Jr realized how much he meant to the team this game.
“Every point of his 35, we needed it,” said the high-flying Nance Jr. “I’m happy for him because it was just one of those games where everything he threw up was going in, and that’s an awesome feeling.”
After a scoring flurry by newly acquired Corey Brewer placed the Lakers within one point in the fourth quarter. The Timberwolves were able to push their lead to eight with a little of two minutes remaining. The Lakers remained determined to win regardless. After a 3-pointer from D’Angelo Russel and a 4-point play from Clarkson, the Lakers were right back in it.
Juluis Randle, who had 23 points and 12 rebounds, blocked reigning rookie of the year Karl Anthony Townes and ended up scoring to give the Lakers the lead. The Timberwolves responded, and Wiggins, who scored 36 points, had a chance to win the game for Minnesota, but be was unable to convert a crucial free throw attempt.
Once the game went to overtime the Lakers scored the first eight points, ultimately outscoring them 21-10 in the period, allowing them to cruise to victory. The win is only the second for the Lakers since the all-star break. They will look to get their third post all-star break win when they host Portland on Sunday, March 26.