LOS ANGELES – It was right that the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Minnesota Timberwolves of all the teams on Wednesday because their wildest period of the season to date – and yes, this is taking into account the punches that were flying against the Houston Rockets – it started only more than a week ago with a loss of road for those Wolves.
This loss was not only disturbing because of the way the Lakers failed to secure another close game along the line, or because they could not perform simple defensive instructions like fighting on screens to challenge Jimmy Butler's 3-points.
What was most problematic was the sense of a fractured spirit that was evident from watching L.A. play by LeBron James.
Yes, it was the quick trigger of Magic president, Magic Johnson, to dress the coach Luke Walton in a match of only seven games of the season, and yes it made him fickle and even worse, hypocritical, after preaching patience during the summer, but Walton received the message: Winning must happen. Now. And apparently management came to see the roster built in a more realistic light. An update was mandatory.
And so Wednesday's 114-110 victory over the Wolves was not only significant because it was the Lakers' third win in four games since that Walton-Johnson summit, and it was not just noteworthy because LA beat Minnesota 28 -22 in the fourth quarter to earn a tight one.
It was monumental because closing the game for the Lakers was their new acquisition at the backup center, Tyson Chandler. The veteran expert with a trophy, an Olympic gold medal and a Defensive Player trophy of the Year in his name was making his Lakers debut one day after he officially signed with the team following an agreement of buyout with the Phoenix Suns.
"We needed help now," Walton said after Chandler had nine rebounds in 23 minutes, no one bigger than his tap out with 12.1 seconds left and L.A. clinging to an advantage of a point. "And I do not know how everything works, but you give it [general manager] rob [Pelinka] and Magic's credit for recognizing it and for doing that work for our team. "