LOS ANGELES – When the Lakers had most of their star power healthy recently, their starting lineup featured three players — Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt and D'Angelo Russell — who were on the Timberwolves less than a calendar year ago.

When the team takes the floor Friday night, the Lakers likely won't have Russell, who is listed as out because of a sprained ankle. The Lakers also won't have another significant member of their starting lineup, LeBron James, who is out multiple weeks because of a foot injury.

But the Wolves are going to face old friends Beasley and Vanderbilt for the fourth time this season. The pair will end up facing the Wolves five times total should both be healthy when the Lakers come to Minneapolis on March 31. The Wolves had a hand in making this happen, as they were a part of the three-team trade that sent each to Los Angeles.

It was the second time in their careers that they were traded together and each time involved Wolves President Tim Connelly, who traded them twice, once in Denver and once with Minnesota.

They are 2-1 against the Wolves so far when they played with Utah, and they helped that team defy early-season expectations to join the mix for a playoff or play-in spot. Now they are trying to boost the Lakers to the same position. The Wolves hold a 1 ½ game lead on the Lakers headed into Friday.

"I'm sure [extra motivation] exists for them," coach Chris Finch said. "Obviously whenever they make a play they let the bench know about it. That's always fun."

Finch said that last sentence in his best deadpan tone.

Beasley has averaged 16 points in the three meetings against the Wolves this season while Vanderbilt has averaged 10.3 points and 10.7 rebounds against his former team.

"It's friendly competition," Wolves guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker said. "You build relationships with these guys so you're going to want to talk smack and win the game. I know being traded from a team does add fuel to it, being there multiple times. It's definitely going to be one of those games where everyone is friendly until the game comes."

Alexander-Walker was most recently teammates with Vanderbilt and Beasley in Utah, and he said it was "sad" that the team had to break up.

The Wolves said they will likely have a little extra incentive, even after facing them three times already this season.

"We get amped up. Especially Jaden [McDaniels], he was talking about it," center Naz Reid said. "He was trying to guard D-Lo as well. Those matchups are always fun. Those are guys you know personally and then they're going to bring it on both sides of the floor."

This matchup has more urgency than any other time they have faced each other this season. The Lakers are trying to keep their playoff hopes afloat while James recovers. Vanderbilt has been a big part of that, as the Lakers fan base has fallen in love quickly with his brand of hustle and defense. Vanderbilt keyed a 27-point comeback victory over the Mavericks on Sunday with 15 points and 17 rebounds.

Recent articles from the Lakers beat have referenced Vanderbilt being "a steal" in the trade.

"His value for our team, you can't even put it into words," forward Anthony Davis told reporters after the Dallas game.

The Wolves are rooting for their former teammates. They just need them to not play as well Friday.

"It's all love," Reid said. "But definitely going to bring that [extra energy]. It's an internal game between us and we're all playing hard and having a great game against each other."