February 4, 2014 — 5:00 PM (PST)
Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
TV: TWC SportsNet / TWC SportsNet Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)
The Lakers (16-31) travel to Minneapolis to play vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (23-24) to start their 3-game road trip.
The good news?
All 3 point guards for the Lakers return tonight. Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar will all return to the floor tonight. As this season has plummeted downhill for this team, having multiple players return from their various injuries might give their team a jolt of energy.
With the return of the three point guards, there is uncertainty about how PG Kendall Marshall will be used tonight. Despite a dismal January as a team, Marshall has played very well, scoring 10.5 PPG and dishing out 9.6 APG but has been replaced in the lineup by all 3 point guards. While outrage might occur if he does not play tonight, anything head coach Mike D’Antoni does with his rotation should not surprise Laker Nation.
The bad news?
C Pau Gasol will miss the road trip due to a bruised groin. Gasol, who has once again found himself in trade talks again, played spectacularly well throughout January, averaging 20.8 PPG and 11.9 RPG. He clearly labored up and down the court the last 2 games, so hopefully rest and recovery will get him back on the court soon.
Local UCLA product and all-star starter PF Kevin Love has dominated this season for the Timberwolves. Love has scored 25.5 PPG and grabbed 13.1 RPG. He can shoot from the perimeter while dominating in the low post at the same time, causing match up nightmares for anyone who guards him.
PG – Steve Nash / Ricky Rubio [Advantage: Timberwolves]
SG – Steve Blake / Kevin Martin [Advantage: Timberwolves]
SF – Jodie Meeks / Corey Brewer [Advantage: Timberwolves]
PF – Ryan Kelly / Kevin Love [Advantage: Timberwolves]
C – Robert Sacre / Ronny Turiaf [Advantage: Lakers]
Notable Bench Players
Timberwolves: F Dante Cunningham, G Alexey Schved, G JJ Barea, F Chase Budinger
Lakers: F Nick Young, G Jordan Farmar, F Jordan Hill, PG Kendall Marshall
Bench Advantage: Lakers
Timberwolves: Out-C Nikola Pekovic
Lakers: Out-G Kobe Bryant, Out-C Pau Gasol, Out-G Xavier Henry
Keys for Lakers Victory
Play Defense: Allowing 100 or more points in 19 out of the last 21 games will not win any team any games regardless of how proficient their offense is. Maybe having all their point guards return will help the Lakers exert more effort on defense. However, that seems very unlikely.
The Lakers currently have a 7 game losing streak. Having their point guards all return tonight will help. However, the likelihood they will help solve their defensive rebounding and defensive issues seem very slim to none.