Game Preview: Los Angeles Lakers at Minnesota Timberwolves

Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

The Lakers are playing a game of professional basketball in Minnesota tonight while Dwight Howard flies back to Los Angeles to receive treatment in his shoulder.

Showtime

6:30 pm PST

Plot

The road trip continues on for the Lakers, as they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves. A team in which they've won 19 straight games against. The outlook isn't the brightest for the purple and gold, as Dwight Howard was sent back to Los Angeles to undergo a platelet rich plasma procedure to try and alleviate the issues he has faced while attempting to play through a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Pau Gasol will start in place of Howard at center, and you can also expect Metta World Peace to play some backup 5 minutes.

After a disappointing loss to drain the momentum they had built as a team to begin this road trip, the Lakers must now gather the debris from the floor. At times it looks like jagged pieces of glass; their team broken like a vase. Other times it appears to be a puzzle that, with each look, they find another piece to work in. The problem for the Lakers as the season reaches the midway point is that they have to figure out ways to win as a team both in the short-term, and long-term. For a deeper look at the upcoming schedule for the Lakers, be sure to check out the latest from The Great Mambino, who did a great job of breaking down the month of February for the purple and gold.

The Timberwolves are currently on a five game losing streak going into tonight. Their franchise player, Kevin Love, is out for nearly the remainder of the season. The T-Wolves are also without Brandon Roy and Chase Budinger. They aren't particularly effective in any aspect of the game of basketball. There's no reason to call this a game the Lakers should win; the benefit of the doubt was sent to the depths when they failed to deliver against the Phoenix Suns. What this is, though, is a game that the Laker need to win. Going 0-2 to start the seven game road trip essentially seals off any lingering hope for this team to even make the playoffs. A team that we thought could be championship caliber is now hoping, praying, and bargaining for a chance to even get into the seven game series tournament.

This Lakers season just hasn't been good.

For the Lakers, they'll need to adjust to having Pau Gasol as their anchor in the paint, both offensively and defensively. Gasol has another opportunity to show that he deserves touches, and space, in the paint while Dwight Howard flies off to Los Angeles. Aside from adjusting to Pau, the Lakers are still trying to cement whether Kobe Bryant will serve as their primary facilitator, a mix of both, or if his trigger finger will get itchy much like it did late against the Suns. As it stands, there's no reason to believe he isn't the best playmaker on the team, as Steve Nash isn't making the same amount of chaos off the dribble as he once did, and Kobe is still able to terrorize defensive rotations.

There's still a great deal of figuring out to do for the Lakers, but there isn't time left for that to take place. There's never been time for this team to perform the way they have, though, but it's continued to happen. A win tonight wouldn't indicate a turning point, but a loss?

Nevermind; I'm still numb from the season as a whole. Or, as the Lakers would say, tonight is the start of the road trip.

On This Soundtrack

- Drew

- Follow this author on Twitter @DrewGarrisonSBN

- Go tell the Timberwolves blog, Canis Hoopus , that we'll take Kevin Love off their hands.

- Los Angeles Lakers Tickets

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