Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions PreviousMinnesota Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins tries to pass the ball over Los Angeles Lakers’ Lance Stephenson in the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns shoots the ball over Los Angeles Lakers’ Lonzo Ball in the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsLos Angeles Lakers’ Brandon Ingram bumps Minnesota Timberwolves’ Anthony Tolliver in the face while trying to get to the basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)The Lakers’ Lance Stephenson tries to make a basket over Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns in the first half of an NBA game Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)Minnesota Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins tries to pass the ball over Los Angeles Lakers’ Lance Stephenson in the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)NextShow Caption1 of 4Minnesota Timberwolves’ Andrew Wiggins tries to pass the ball over Los Angeles Lakers’ Lance Stephenson in the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)ExpandMINNEAPOLIS – An hour after Sunday afternoon’s game ended, the Minnesota Timberwolves fired their head coach.For those who didn’t see the 22-point whipping at Target Center, that abrupt decision would’ve made it easy to confuse the Timberwolves (19-21) with the team they spent 48 minutes blowing out.It was the Lakers (21-19) who left the arena wounded — even moreso than they were walking in. A 108-86 loss, the third straight for the team, lacked competitive spirit. Still without LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma and Rajon Rondo, the Lakers slipped while already toeing a very narrow rope.The weak effort left coach Luke Walton and several of the team’s veterans willing to call it like they saw it: There were long stretches in which the Lakers flat-out didn’t play hard. Tyson Chandler, the most experienced player in the locker room, said that will have to change if the team has any hope of turning around a 1-5 stretch without James. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers The closest margin for the rest of the evening was 12 points. The Lakers seemed to be on the cusp of a comeback in the second quarter, but then surrendered a 7-0 Timberwolves run to end the first half, puntuated by an Andrew Wiggins 3-pointer.Wiggins had 28 points (25 in the first half) for Minnesota, and so did Karl-Anthony Towns. By contrast, the Lakers’ starters offered mea culpas, with McGee saying his energy was “extremely low,” and Ball saying the team didn’t “bring the fight.”To a man, the Lakers said their injuries — even with James sitting out — was no excuse for such a wilting performance.“Until we get healthy again, you got to play in this league with some passion and fire,” Walton said. “It’s hard to win in this league when you are healthy. So you need to double that effort when guys are down.”It seemed that Walton was searching for that effort as he threw out a variety of unusual lineups. The Lakers started both McGee and Ivica Zubac, with the concern that they wanted to win on the glass (Minnesota won the boards 50-48). Once it became apparent the Lakers couldn’t score in that lineup, Beasley (11 points) and Lance Stephenson (14 points) subbed in to give the team some life.They closed with a youth-heavy lineup, giving rookies Moe Wagner, Svi Mykhailiuk and Issac Bonga opportunities down the stretch while resting others for Monday’s game against Dallas.With no day off before their next game, the Lakers acknowledged that something will have to change fast to stop the slide. If there is a bottom to the recent nose dive, the best hope is that they’ve already hit it.“ I think we still good enough to win games,” Stephenson said. “We just gotta believe that. I think our guys don’t believe that right now. We’re letting the excuse of the guys being out affect us. I think we could win with what we’ve got right now. Just gotta play hard.” How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Related Articles Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers“I think we’ve just got to do a better job competing, to be quite honest,” he said. “Possession by possession, we have to compete and I don’t think right now we’re competing hard enough with the situation that we’re in.”It was hard enough for the Lakers that they had stars who couldn’t play. But it was made harder by the fact that the stars who could played poorly.It took Brandon Ingram until midway through the second quarter to score his first points, and though he scored 13 on the night, he didn’t score at all in the second half. JaVale McGee finally cracked into the scoring column early in the third quarter at the free throw line, going 0 for 3 from the field.Lonzo Ball never scored at all in just under 23 minutes, finishing with 6 rebounds and 4 assists. His best and last look in the third quarter was handily blocked by Josh Okogie on an attempted fast break. None of the trio played in the fourth quarter, as the Lakers failed to gain any ground on the enormous Minnesota lead.And that lead came early: After the Lakers scored the first point of the game at the free throw line, Minnesota responded with a 15-0 run. Just six minutes in, the Timberwolves had built a 22-3 advantage, the only Laker basket coming from sub-in Michael Beasley.