Karl-Anthony Towns scored 27 points and grabbed 12 rebounds Thursday, and Andrew Wiggins added 23 points as the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves continued to find their stride under interim head coach Ryan Saunders with a 120-105 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Jerryd Bayless added 16 points and eight assists off the bench as the Timberwolves won their third consecutive game and improved to 5-3 under Saunders, who took over after Tom Thibodeau was fired on Jan. 6. The Wolves also improved to 7-3 in their past 10 games.
Brandon Ingram scored 20 points as the Lakers fell to 5-10 without LeBron James, who has been out since sustaining a groin injury on Christmas Day.
Point guard Rajon Rondo did return for the Lakers, providing 15 points and a season-high 13 assists after missing 14 games following surgery on his right ring finger.
The Timberwolves struggled from the field in the first half, trailing 29-28 after one quarter and 61-58 at halftime while shooting just under 41 percent.
Minnesota came alive midway through the third quarter, turning a seven-point deficit into a five-point lead, ultimately taking an 84-82 edge into the final quarter.
The Wolves got off to a hot start in the fourth quarter, opening with a 12-0 run, with Wiggins scoring nine of the points.
Taj Gibson scored 14 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who are just 8-16 on the road this season but have won three of their past four games away from home. The Wolves outscored the Lakers 36-23 in the fourth quarter.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 13 points while Kyle Kuzma, Ivica Zubac and JaVale McGee added 10 points each for the Lakers, who could get James back on the court as early as Sunday against the Phoenix Suns. James has ramped up participation in practice this week.
The Timberwolves finished with a 55-39 rebounding advantage and forced the Lakers into 20 turnovers.
The Wolves played the second half without veteran guard Derrick Rose, who did not return after halftime because of a right ankle injury. Rose, who scored six first-half points, missed six games earlier this season with a sprained right ankle.
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