Jimmy Butler returning from injury for Timberwolves on Friday vs. Lakers

Timberwolves get vital victory over Lakers

L.A. owns a 20-18 record at the Staples Center, and they are now averaging a solid 108.4 points per game, ranking them 10th in the National Basketball Association.

The Minnesota Timberwolves will take on the Los Angeles Lakers in Western Conference action Friday night from the Staples Center.

The Minnesota Timberwolves fell into a tie for eighth place in the Western Conference with a 100-96 loss to the Denver Nuggets Thursday night.

Butler was inserted into the starting lineup, played 22 minutes and was 7 for 10 from the field with two rebounds, one assist and four steals in his first game since getting hurt against Houston on February 23. They are 34-22 (roughly a 50-win pace) when Butler has played this year, and 10-13 (a 35-36 win pace) when he has not been available. The seven-foot center has scored at least 20 points in three straight games which included a spectacular 56 point night last week, and he is now up to 21.2 points and 12.3 rebounds per game.

BC-BKN-Timberwolves-Lakers, 461Butler returns as Wolves beat Lakers 113-96AP Photo LAS510, LAS509, LAS506, LAS505, LAS507Eds: APNewsNow. 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. Towns culminated the stretch with a three-point play to make it 94-75 with 8:57 left.

Gorgui Dieng's basket gave Minnesota an 80-68 lead late in the quarter before the Lakers scored the final five points. Despite shooting only 29 percent from the field, the Lakers outscored the Timberwolves 32-21 in the second quarter. An 11-0 run four minutes later gave the Lakers a 52-40 lead with 3:08 remaining in the first half.

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