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Anthony Davis' unprecedented game carries turnover-plagued Lakers past Minnesota

Los Angeles, California March 10, 2024-Lakers Anthony Davis screams after being fouled.

As the third quarter turned to the fourth quarter, rarely-used Minnesota big man Luka Garza flipped the ball into the bucket just before the buzzer.

The play came after another turnover, a string of mistakes increasingly maddening and propping open the door against the severely undermanned Timberwolves.

Last week, Minnesota lost Karl-Anthony Towns to a meniscus tear. On Sunday, the Timberwolves played without Rudy Gobert and without Towns’ replacement in the starting five, Kyle Anderson.

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And after the Garza basket, the Lakers entered the fourth quarter trailing by one, again looking like a team allergic to good vibes and momentum.

But even turnovers — and the Lakers had 20 of them — couldn't get in the way of the kind of game Anthony Davis had.

“It was special night for him,” Austin Reaves said.

Davis and the Lakers’ defense responded with a 21-4 run after Garza's basket, a reminder of what they’re capable of achieving, in a 120-109 win at Crypto.com Arena.

It wrapped a stretch in which the Lakers played seven consecutive games in their building (once as a road team) and picked up victories over the Clippers, Wizards, Thunder, Bucks and Timberwolves.

Against Minnesota, Davis played a stellar all-around game despite dealing with a shoulder bruise he sustained Friday. He became the first NBA player to have at least 27 points, 25 rebounds, seven steals, five assists and three blocks in a game.

Minnesota's Anthony Edwards, right, blocks a shot by Lakers forward Anthony Davis in the second half Sunday.

“Any time we shot and missed, he was there,” Reaves said.

Davis grabbed 10 offensive rebounds. He turns 31 on Monday.

“Just being a monster all night,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said of his star center.

LeBron James, who sat out the win over Milwaukee, returned and led the Lakers (36-30) with 29 points. Reaves had 19, Rui Hachimura scored 15 and D’Angelo Russell had 13.

Anthony Edwards and Naz Reid led Minnesota (44-21) with 25 points apiece. The Timberwolves turned the Lakers’ 20 turnovers into 28 points.

“Got to correct the turnover habit. Had too many unforced errors out there,” Ham said. “I'm not the turnover coach. I love competitive turnovers, guys trying to play the right way but just the senseless, no defensive pressure or anything like that, those type of turnovers. And when they're live-ball turnovers, those we've got to eliminate.”

Edwards had one of the plays of the night early when he tried for a wild highlight slam on Davis, but the ball was partially blocked and ricocheted off the rim.

“That was crazy,” Jaxson Hayes said.

The win put the Lakers six games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2020-21 season.

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“I just think we’re trending the right direction,” Ham said.

The Lakers play in Sacramento on Wednesday before coming back to Los Angeles for four more games.

“We still got guys out, but we're confident in our group,” Davis said. “We know that we can line up against anybody and beat them if we play the right way. If we don't, then we can line up against anybody and lose. But I think right now, playing against these top teams, it's gonna help us later on come playoff time. It was a good test for us to kind of tighten up screws and figure out what we need to do."

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.