Jeff Teague recorded 25 points and eight assists and Jimmy Butler added 18 points in his return from a knee injury to help the Minnesota Timberwolves record a crucial 113-96 victory over the host Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night at Staples Center.
Taj Gibson contributed 18 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots as the Timberwolves ended a two-game slide. Minnesota (45-35) moved into sole possession of the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot by a half-game over the Denver Nuggets.
Andrew Wiggins added 15 points and eight rebounds and Karl-Anthony Towns had 14 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots.
Josh Hart had 20 points and 11 rebounds and Julius Randle added 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who lost for the fourth time in the past five games. Brook Lopez scored 18 points, and Ivica Zubac had 14 points and nine rebounds.
Butler missed 17 games with the knee injury he suffered on Feb. 23 against the Houston Rockets. He played 23 minutes and was 7-of-10 shooting and notched four of Minnesota’s 14 steals.
Los Angeles committed 21 turnovers while the Timberwolves had just five miscues.
Lakers rookie forward Kyle Kuzma had just two points before departing in the third quarter with an ankle injury. Los Angeles was also without rookie point guard Lonzo Ball (knee) for the fifth straight contest and small forward Brandon Ingram (concussion) for the fourth.
Los Angeles trailed by nine points early in the fourth quarter before the Timberwolves rattled off 10 straight points. Towns culminated the stretch with a three-point play to make it 94-75 with 8:57 left.
The lead topped out at 20 before the Lakers whittled it down to 13 but couldn’t make a sustained push.
The Timberwolves trailed by seven at halftime before dominating most of the third quarter while outscoring Los Angeles 29-15.
Minnesota opened the quarter with a 10-2 surge to take a 61-60 edge on Wiggins’ basket with 8:28 left. Teague and Wiggins drained consecutive 3-pointers later in the stanza as the Timberwolves took a 73-66 advantage.
Gorgui Dieng’s basket gave Minnesota an 80-68 lead late in the quarter before the Lakers scored the final five points.
Lopez scored all 18 of his points in the first half as the Lakers held a 58-51 lead at the break.
—Field Level Media