NBA Highlights on Mar. 9: Timberwolves owe win to Tom Thibodeau
Li Xiang

Thanks to an incredible performance by Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson in overtime, the Minnesota Timberwolves defeated the visiting Washington Wizards 135-130 in the NBA on Saturday. In another eye-catching game, the Boston Celtics got vengeance on the Los Angeles Lakers by claiming a 120-107 victory at the Staples Center.

Rose shoots, Gibson rebounds

Taj Gibson #67 of the Minnesota Timberwolves puts the ball back into the basket against the Washington Wizards, March 9. /VCG Photo

Taj Gibson #67 of the Minnesota Timberwolves puts the ball back into the basket against the Washington Wizards, March 9. /VCG Photo

Karl-Anthony Towns dropped a game-high 40 points and 16 rebounds for Minnesota. The another two from the first-lineup, Dario Saric and Keita Bates Diop got  13 and 12 points respectively. Rose scored the highest of 29 points for bench players while Gibson had a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Washington's Bradley Beal missed one assist for triple-double after he put down 36 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Trevor Ariza buried eight of his 13 shots, including seven three-pointers to get 27 points. Bobby Portis had a double-double of 21 points and 12 rebounds. Tomas Satoransky scored nine points but delivered 11 assists.

Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Timberwolves dunks in the game against the Wizards, March 9. /VCG Photo

Karl-Anthony Towns #32 of the Timberwolves dunks in the game against the Wizards, March 9. /VCG Photo

Without Dwight Howard and Ian Mahinmi, the Wizards actually had no qualified big man to match Towns in the paint. Portis claimed that he's seven feet (about 2.11 meters) but he's not that tall. As a result, the capital team had to watch Towns have his own way in offense. Before he left the court for injury, Towns made 15 of his 25 shots including four from the 3-pt line.

However, the Timberwolves failed to get an easy win because their defense was such a disappointment as it always has been. Washington, as a whole, delivered 31 assists, sank 16 three-pointers and led 13-4 in early offense points. As a matter of fact, if Beal shoots better than 20 percent (2/10) from the 3-pt line, it's hard to say who will win in the end.

Fortunately for Minnesota, they had Rose and Gibson who were introduced by the team's former head coach Tom Thibodeau. Rose in the fourth quarter and OT claimed 16 points, including a victory-sealing perimeter shot with 22 seconds to go. During the same period, Gibson grabbed five rebounds including three offensive ones. There were several positions reminding fans of Rose and Gibson playing together in the Chicago Bulls before injuries almost ruined Rose's career.

It's time for Lakers to tank

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics and LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers #23 in the game, March 9. /VCG Photo

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics and LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers #23 in the game, March 9. /VCG Photo

Six of Boston's players scored double-digit points. Kyrie Irving had the best of 30 points. Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris each scored 16, Gordon Hayward put down 15 while Al Horford and Terry Rozier got 10 each.

LeBron James dropped a triple-double of 30 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists for the Lakers. Two forwards who were recently put into the rotation, Moritz Wagner and Johnathan Williams, scored respectively 22 and 18 points and Williams also got 10 rebounds.

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Celtics shoots in the game against the Lakers, March 9. /VCG Photo

Kyrie Irving #11 of the Celtics shoots in the game against the Lakers, March 9. /VCG Photo

Though 13 points did not make a big loss, the purple and gold did not put up much resistance in the game. The reason that the game did not become a forgone conclusion in the first and a half quarters was simply that the Celtics were not playing defense. As that changed, Boston soon took control of the game and led by 17 points before the last quarter (93-76). The Celtics maintained a 10+point lead in Q4 before giving the Lakers their fifth straight loss.

What really upset the home fans was the news before the game: The team's two promising young men, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, both said goodbye to the rest of the season because of injuries. Doctors revaluated Ball's left ankle before the player and the team agreed to shut down the remainder of the season. Ingram was diagnosed with a deep venous thrombosis in his right arm before the same decision.

Neither Lonzo Ball #2 and nor Brandon Ingram #14 of the Lakers will play for the rest of the season. /VCG Photo 

Neither Lonzo Ball #2 and nor Brandon Ingram #14 of the Lakers will play for the rest of the season. /VCG Photo 

After Saturday's loss, the Lakers ranked No.11 in the Western Conference and were seven wins behind the No.8 San Antonio Spurs. With only 16 games to play but no Ball or Ingram, the purple and gold are clearly  hopeless for the playoffs. Therefore, tanking seemed a better option because at least they might acquire a good draft pick which could be used for franchise rebuilding or trade leverage.

Currently, the Lakers are No.21 in the whole league, meaning that they have a three percent of chance to get the No.1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, a 10 percent chance to get a top 3 pick and a 14 percent chance for a top 5. If they keep losing more games, the team's chances for top 5 picks will rise to 20 percent (No.22) or even 26 percent (No.23). Ironically but realistically, the more the Lakers lose, the better.

Other results on Saturday: (away teams mentioned first)

Sacramento Kings 102-94 New York Knicks

Brooklyn Nets 114-112 Atlanta Hawks

Charlotte Hornets 114-131 Milwaukee Bucks

Phoenix Suns 120-127 Portland Trail Blazers