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During Rudy Gobert's preseason debut for his new franchise, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the starting center for the opposition, your Los Angeles Lakers, largely outplayed the All-Star big man. Starting for the first time this preseason, Thomas Bryant poured in 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the floor, pulled down seven rebounds, and had an assist, a steal, and a block for good measure, across just 25:37 minutes on the floor. Unfortunately, the rest of the Timberwolves responded in kind, besting L.A. 114-99. The defeat dropped the Lakers to an 0-3 preseason start.

Part of the reason behind the loss was personnel: head coach Darvin Ham decided to sit LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn for the game, L.A.'s second contest of a preseason back-to-back. Dennis Schröder remains away from the team, and Troy Brown Jr. continues to rehabilitate from his back injury.

On the Timberwolves' end, All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns was sidelined while he continues to recover from an illness, but the rest of the team's roster was available. Its high-scoring backcourt tandem of ex-Laker D'Angelo Russell and 2020 No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards combined for 26 points on 10-of-24 shooting, though neither guard played more than 23 minutes due to head coach Chris Finch recognizing the relative meaninglessness of a preseason game. 

By the time Finch benched that dynamic duo them for the night, the damage had more or less been done. Although L.A. took a 27-24 first period lead, the more complete Timberwolves put the Lakers youth on notice in the second half. Thanks largely to the team's backcourt scoring, Minnesota built a 52-43 lead over Los Angeles in the first half, and then proceeded to outscore L.A. 33-21 in the third quarter, thus carving out an 88-64 edge heading into the fourth.

Beyond Bryant, L.A. saw some other role players step up in the absence of their key vets. Making his Lakers debut, Lonnie Walker showed off his intriguing athleticism and a sick handle. He chipped in 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting (just 1-of-7 from deep), plus five rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal.

Ham elevated rookies Scotty Pippen Jr. and Max Christie into the starting lineup, keeping first-year power forward Cole Swider on the bench. Though all shot relatively inefficiently, Pippen in particular had some impressive moments as a playmaker and defender. He finished with 14 points (on 4-of-12 shooting), seven assists, four rebounds, three steals, and two blocks. Swider scored 17 points, and was not afraid to let it fly from deep. He took 11 triples, making just three. 

Bryant got his first start of the preseason. Last night's starting center, Wenyen Gabriel, was shifted back to his more natural power forward position, and remained excitingly athletic yet confoundingly inefficient. Austin Reaves was retained as the team's starting shooting guard. He once again posted a modest scoring night (Reaves had just six points), but contributed eight boards and three dimes.

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On the injury front, Lakers bench swingman Juan Toscano-Anderson suffered a right quadriceps contusion during the third quarter and had to leave the game to tend to the injury, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

Training camp invitees Matt Ryan, Jay Huff, and Dwayne Bacon all logged some time, though their comrade Javante McCoy did not.

Let's look at the highlights.

Walker got the Vegas crowd -- and his L.A. teammates on the bench -- worked up with this nifty move:

After the game, Ham praised Walker's defensive game, tweets Trudell. Ham acknowledged that Walker's offensive skillset is fairly established, and hinted that he would like to see Walker operate as a supplement to the Lakers' established offensive stars when everyone's healthy.

Even though he was in street clothes, Patrick Beverley remained a karmically pesky disruptive presence, jinxing Gobert on the free throw line:

As he did last night, 6'9" Wenyen Gabriel, who is signed to a non-guaranteed deal for this season with Los Angeles, made just one field goal (this time he took five attempts), but he sure made that lone conversion look good:

Gabriel's fellow non-guaranteed signee, Reaves, went just 2-of-8 from the field tonight. But like Gabriel, his makes sure were cool-looking. Check out this herky-jerky off-balance jumper:

Finally, let's take a look at the Lakers' game MVP (in a loss, but still), Thomas Bryant finishing a tough finish through contact, off a Pippen dish.