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Lakers’ playoff hopes take another hit after comeback fades vs. Minnesota

The first of a five-game homestand for the Lakers began with an important game on Friday night against the talented and athletic Minnesota Timberwolves, one of three LA teams for the play-in tournament.

The Lakers will play this stretch without LeBron James, who will be re-evaluated in three weeks after it was announced Thursday that the forward has a tendon injury to his right foot.

The Lakers also lacked starting point guard D’Angelo Russell, who missed his fourth straight game with a sprained right ankle.

But the Lakers did get Anthony Davis back after he missed Wednesday night’s game in Oklahoma City as the team took precautions with his right foot stress injury. It didn’t matter, as the Lakers fell to Minnesota 110-102.

Through three quarters, Davis had carried the Lakers with 29 points, three rebounds and two assists. But he had six turnovers, too many of the 11 the Lakers had as a team.

The Lakers trailed the Timberwolves 83-76 by the end of the third inning.

Rudy Gobert had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds and Anthony Edwards had 16 points in the first three quarters for the Timberwolves.

The Lakers shot 40.3% from the field to three-quarters, 28.6% from three-point range. The Timberwolves shot 47.7% from the field and 41.7% from three-point range through the first three quarters.

Entering the game against the Timberwolves, the Lakers were in 11th place in the tough Western Conference.

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards takes a shot in Friday’s first half.

(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Lakers coach Darvin Ham said they know where they stand in the race for a top-10 spot in the West.

“But I mean, I say to the team, ‘The first order of business is to take care of our own business.’ It doesn’t matter what the standings say, whether we let games slip or don’t do what we need to do to make sure we are able to capitalize on an opportunity,” said Ham. “So that’s the most important thing for us. We just need to focus on our business and everything else will fall into place as it should.”

It won’t be easy for the Lakers as James will miss at least the next 10 games or so.

He has started his rehab and is doing everything he can to return for the Lakers to help them in their quest to at least reach the play-in games.

“There is no update and his situation is what it is,” said Ham. “And if it wasn’t for him and his game we wouldn’t be so close to having the chance to improve going forward. So just want him to take his time and be in tune with the medical staff and do what he needs to do to come back as soon as possible… We need to go one step further, all of us.

The Lakers will get Russell back before James, but when that will happen remains uncertain

Russell started some “playgroups” on Friday, Ham said, and is still working back.

“We don’t want a guy from not playing an NBA game throwing him back out,” Ham said. “There are steps like playgroups that we need to see how he reacts to that, how his body reacts, especially his ankle. So we’ll go through that, and he’s busy doing all of that.

Unfortunately for Russell, he missed playing against his former team.

The Lakers brought in Minnesota’s Russell to be their starting point guard.

But his new Lakers teammates, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt, both played on the Timberwolves team that made the playoffs with Russell last season.

Beasley and Vanderbilt were traded to the Jazz last summer and were acquired by the Lakers last month.

Beasley had 10 points on four-for-nine shooting and two-for-five on three-pointers through three-quarters. Vanderbilt had five points and four rebounds.