YACINEWS
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Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose play productive games, but Wolves fall 114-110 to Lakers

Jimmy Butler fell to the ground and took an official with him, and as he did his three-point attempt fell through the hoop, the beginning of a four-point play in the fourth quarter Monday.

A few moments later, Butler made a steal of a pass intended for LeBron James and cruised for an easy dunk.

For all the controversy over his trade request and his sitting out games for “general soreness,” Butler has delivered when he has taken the floor. There was nobody disputing Butler’s reported exhortation of “You need me” to General Manager Scott Layden when Butler blew up his first appearance at Wolves practice in October, and Wednesday was another demonstration of that.

But for as much as the Wolves might need Butler, and for as well as he played Monday night with 24 points in 43 minutes, it still wasn’t enough for the Wolves as the Lakers came away with a 114-110 victory.

James finished with a near-triple-double of 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. The Wolves had a solid shooting night from the field — especially from three-point range, making a franchise-record 20 (out of 40). Derrick Rose added 31 points for the Wolves, including seven threes.

Kyle Kuzma hit a three with 1:53 left to give the Lakers a 111-104 lead, but Rose hit back-to-back threes in the next minute to draw the Wolves within one at 111-110 with 1:06 left. The Lakers then missed three times but got the rebound twice and the Wolves knocked the ball out of bounds on a third chance.

“That’s the problem. We gotta fix it,” Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We can’t get outrebounded like that. Until we do that, we’re not gonna be successful.”

The Wolves fouled Kuzma and he hit one of two with 8.8 seconds left for a 112-110 lead. Rose missed a potential game-winning three with 1.2 seconds left and Josh Hart hit free throws for the final margin, leaving the Wolves 0-7 on the road this season.

“For you to ask the question,” Rose said about his last three-point attempt, “you had to see something, you feel me? No disrespect, but they’re not going to give me that call. They haven’t been giving me that call. So I just got to get used to it.”

Forward Taj Gibson was certain he saw something, too: “He got fouled. He definitely got fouled.”

Karl-Anthony Towns had an eventful opening few minutes of the game with a block of JaVale McGee, a block of James, a three-pointer, another deflection when James was dribbling and a drawn offensive foul. Towns’ play was indicative of the Wolves as a whole in this first quarter. They executed flawlessly on the offensive end, hitting six of their first eight three-pointers.

Rose and Andrew Wiggins each hit a pair of treys while Towns and Butler added one. The Wolves led by as many as nine in the quarter, but the Lakers came back thanks to an infusion from new acquisition Tyson Chandler. But it was Hart who did the most damage to the Wolves. He hit three threes of his own to close out the quarter for the Lakers, who cut the nine-point deficit to 32-30 to start the second.

To begin the second quarter, Thibodeau turned to a lineup that he has favored in the early going — Butler plus four bench players. That configuration held serve until Thibodeau could mix the starters back into the lineup, and the starters seemed like they couldn’t miss at times. Each of them reached double figures by the end of the half and shot a combined 25 of 38 from the field and 11 of 15 from three-point range for 67 points. The 11 three-pointers tied a club record for most three-pointers in a half, which they set in 2010.

Perhaps the starting unit benefited from some continuity. For the five games before Wednesday, the Wolves used five unique starting lineups, the first time they had done that since November 2014.

The only problem was the Wolves couldn’t get a stop to preserve a lead.

The Lakers shot 52 percent from the field and added 13 second-chance points as the Wolves’ problems on the defensive glass continued. The Lakers grabbed nine offensive rebounds in the first half.

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