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The Los Angeles Lakers will host the Minnesota Timberwolves to cap off the NBA’s annual Christmas Day showcase, but the excitement for this game on paper when announced has already faded. Injuries are piling up for the Lakers, which may leave fans with a lump of coal by the end of the night.
Lonzo Ball has been ruled out of the primetime game with a sprained left shoulder. Brandon Ingram’s status remains in the air after sitting out of the Lakers’ loss to the Portland Trail Blazers with injuries to his quadriceps. These two new injuries, along with Brook Lopez expected to miss close to a month after spraining his ankle, have left the Lakers looking ragged.
ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (20-13): Minnesota’s recent winning streak is being sparked by an uptick in production from veteran swingman Jimmy Butler, who is averaging 31.3 points on 54.5 percent shooting over the last three games. “Jimmy Butler,” Thibodeau told reporters when asked how his team was able to pull out a 115-106 win at Phoenix on Saturday. “Jimmy Butler was not going to let us lose the game and you can’t say enough about what he does for this team. He has changed everything for us.” Butler is averaging 26.3 points this month – up from 16.2 in October and 17.9 in November – and the Timberwolves are 7-4 in 11 December games.
ABOUT THE LAKERS (11-20): Los Angeles shot 42.4 percent from the floor in Saturday’s loss while ending a seven-game streak of scoring at least 106 points, and rookie Kyle Kuzma finally began to cool off. Kuzma matched Jordan Clarkson with a team-high 18 points but was just 6-of-19 from the floor after averaging 27.5 points on 60.9 percent shooting in the previous four contests. Fellow rookie Lonzo Ball came up two rebounds shy of a triple-double on Saturday but went 4-of-13 from the floor after appearing to break through with a 9-of-16 effort in Friday’s setback.