- MINNESOTA: 23-24 (.489), 13-9 Home, 11-17 vs. West, Lost Last 2 Games, 5-5 in Last 10 Games.
- L.A. LAKERS: 16-31 (.340), 8-18 Road, 9-18 vs. West, Lost Last 6 Games, 2-8 in Last 10 Games.
- Nikola Peković (ankle): Pek is now out of his walking boot and Monday was day #7 of him being out. The original idea was for him to be held out of basketball activities for 7-10 days and then he'd be re-evaluated. According to the TWolves PR twitter account, he'll be re-evaluated in a couple days. My initial thought was that he'd be held out until the All-Star break and I still wouldn't doubt if he doesn't return until after the break.
Los Angeles Lakers
- Steve Nash (back): Nash hasn't played in a game since early November, however he's listed as probable for tonight's game. After being out so long he will most certainly have a strict minute restriction if he does play.
- Steve Blake (elbow): Blake hasn't played in a game since early December, however like Nash he's listed as probable for tonight's game and if he does play, expect him to have a minute limit.
- Jordan Farmar (hamstring): Farmar went down with the injury in late December, but unlike his fellow point guards he's still unlikely to play tonight.
- Kobe Bryant (knee): Kobe is not on the road trip as he continues to recover. He's currently targeting a late-February return.
- Xavier Henry (knee): Henry is traveling with the team, but according to D'Antoni, he's expected to miss a couple more weeks.
- Pau Gasol (groin): Like Kobe, Pau is not with the Lakers on their three-game road trip.
IN THE HEADLINES
- Will Kobe Bryant play in the All-Star Game later this month? It sounds as though he likely won't and new Commissioner Adam Silver will likely be forced to name an injury replacement. If I could choose a replacement it would be down to New Orleans' Anthony Davis, Phoenix's Goran Dragic or Memphis' Mike Conley.
- Pau Gasol to Phoenix? The NBA's biggest surprise, the Phoenix Suns are currently the 6th seed (29-18) in the ultra-competitive Western Conference. When Eric Bledsoe went down with a knee injury I thought for sure that they'd plummet in the rankings, but they've remained constant. Now, with the postseason in their sights they're looking to add a bit more depth to the roster. The current offer from the Suns is the injured Emeka Okafor's expiring contract and a first round pick in the loaded 2014 NBA Draft. The Lakers have said they want something more than financial relief for Gasol. With the Lakers all but completely out of contention for the playoffs (15 games under .500), Gasol's contract expiring next year and all indications pointing to him signing elsewhere, why wouldn't you trade him before the Deadline (16 days away) and get something for the former All-Star in a lost, rebuilding season.
- Kevin Love's name has been linked to the Lakers for years and there's little doubt that as we listen to tonight's broadcast, that will come up at some point. The most recent rumor came from ESPN's Chris Broussard who said he spoke with a general manager that said there's 100% certainty that Love will sign with the Lakers after next season. Winning solves a lot of problems and if the Wolves can string together a lengthy winning streak this kind of talk will fade into the background (at least temporarily).
KEY OF THE GAME
- Don't take this injury-ravaged Lakers squad lightly, the Timberwolves have taken far too many opponents 'lightly' and gone into contests expecting wins. That's how you lose games to the Lakers, Cavaliers, Celtics, Wizards, etc. Just because L.A. has lost their last six outings, they're clearly getting healthier and any team can beat a superior squad on any given night.
- The Lakers are incredibly shorthanded, but they still have talent on the roster with guys like Nick Young, Jodie Meeks and the career resurgence of Kendall Marshall.
- L.A.'s starting small forward is former Wolves lotto pick Wesley Johnson. Is the former 4th overall pick ever live up to that billing? Probably not. He's getting 26.8 minutes per game for the Lakers and is averaging 8.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1 steal and 1 block per game, while shooting 42% from the field and 36% from deep. I think he has a future in this League as a role player for a championship contender as a guy who can do a little bit of everything, but really doesn't have a significant skill that stands out (shooting, defense, IQ, rebounding, etc). The one thing I remember about Wes was when he entered the League, I was looking forward to him joining the franchise and I was hopeful he could contribute 12-15 points a night. That was before Love broke out and became the all-star talent he is today. This was when Jonny Flynn & Darko Milicic were still starters. He showed some talent in his first season, but was a huge disappointment and instead of improving in his second season we saw regression over the next two years leading to his eventual departure via trade to the Phoenix Suns. We'll see if he has his 'revenge' game tonight and drops 20 on the TWolves.
- The Lakers haven't lost in Minnesota in nearly 7 years. The Wolves ended that ridiculous 22-game overall losing streak to LA earlier this season, though they've won 12-straight at the Target Center.
- The Lakers have lost six-straight and 18 of their last 21 games!
- Love had 25 points & 13 rebounds in both meetings this season with the Lakers.
- The Lakers have allowed at least 100 points in 14-straight games. The Wolves have the second-best offense averaging over 105 a game, so all signs point to that streak continuing.
- Ricky Rubio: 8.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, 8.2 assists, 2.7 steals
- Kevin Martin: 19.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
- Corey Brewer: 11.1 points, 2.4 rebounds, 1.6 steals
- Kevin Love: 25.5 points, 13.1 rebounds, 4 assists, 0.9 steals
- Ronny Turiaf: 3.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.3 blocks
Los Angeles Lakers
- Steve Nash: 6.7 points, 1.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists
- Steve Blake: 9.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 7.7 assists
- Wesley Johnson: 8.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1 steals, 1 block
- Ryan Kelly: 6.6 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist
- Robert Sacre: 4.1 points, 3 rebounds, 0.8 blocks
Tipoff is set for 7pmCST from the Target Center, enjoy the game!