Clarkson's Career-High Leads Lakers' Comeback

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Three days ago, Jordan Clarkson put forth a self-described “terrible” performance that led to some serious work back at the Lakers’ headquarters in El Segundo.

By the time he returned to Staples Center on Friday, he was ready to set it ablaze, as the 24-year-old went off for a career-high 35 points to lead the Lakers’ 130-119 overtime comeback against Minnesota.

“He seemed to have that spark back that he’s played with most of the year,” head coach Luke Walton said. “The last couple of games I just feel like his confidence has been a little down, which we don’t want obviously. He definitely seemed to have it going again tonight.”

Clarkson was a marksman from deep connecting for a career-high eight 3-pointers on only 10 attempts. It was a stark contrast from Tuesday, when he shot just 1-of-9 from the field and missed all four of his 3-point attempts against the LA Clippers.

“I ran past the bench last game and told coach my (shot) was broke,” Clarkson said. “We got in the gym and worked a lot the last two games.”

The Lakers (21-51) certainly needed Clarkson’s speedy improvement, as the team fell behind by as many as 15 points in the third quarter.

But to get back in the game, Los Angeles first had to rely on an unlikely source: Corey Brewer.

The recently acquired vet heated up in the fourth quarter, which saw him score 10 of his 12 points, including with a high-flying, put-back slam. Brewer’s burst left the Lakers down by one halfway through the period, but the Timberwolves (28-43) quickly pushed their advantage up to eight with 2:26 remaining.

But the Lakers were ready to strike back, as D’Angelo Russell hit a 3-pointer before Clarkson followed with one of his own while drawing contact. He hit the and-1 free throw, and Julius Randle did the rest.

Randle — who had 23 points and 12 rebounds — swatted reigning Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns on one end, then got the ball back on the other and drove through the lane before banking in the go-ahead bucket.

The Wolves still had a minute left to respond and Andrew Wiggins — who racked up 36 points — found himself with a chance to put his team up for good. However, he missed his second free throw attempt, leading to L.A.’s first overtime session of the season.

The Lakers blew the game open in the extra period, scoring its first eight points, including on a 3-pointer and layup by Clarkson.

L.A. outscored Minnesota in overtime, 21-10, as Clarkson finished the night after putting in a career-high 47 minutes of work.

“He never gets tired,” Walton said. “I don’t think I took him out once the entire second half or overtime tonight. There were a couple plays where he looked like he was tired, but for the most part he keeps going.”

Clarkson proved to be too valuable to take off the floor, as he also found time to hand out five assists while going off for the top scoring night of his young career.

“Every point of his 35, we needed it,” Larry Nance Jr. said. “I’m happy for him because it was just one of those games where everything he threw up was going in, and that’s an awesome feeling.”

Shaq Effect
Before the game, the Lakers honored legendary center Shaquille O’Neal by unveiling a bronze, suspended statue of him dunking on the side of Staples Center.

Meanwhile, the players also paid tribute by wearing special-edition socks that depicted O’Neal mid-slam.

The Big Fella himself watched the game courtside and addressed the sold-out crowd at halftime, saying, “This day wouldn’t be possible without (the fans), so thank you very much. I love L.A.!”

Walton felt that Shaq brought some vibes that helped turn the game around for the Lakers.

“There was better energy in the building because of Shaq and what happened today,” Walton said. “… The building became electric. It was a lot of fun.”

The Lakers shot 6-of-8 in overtime, while Minnesota went just 4-of-12. … Randle hit two 3-pointers for the second time in his career. … Towns (25 points, 13 rebounds) and Ricky Rubio (19 points, 15 assists) both had double-doubles for the Wolves, who lost their fifth straight game.

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