Originally written on Purple and Gold Blog  |  Last updated 11/17/14
Just when you think the Lakers (20-26) have finally turned a corner, they proved against Phoenix on Wednesday that they're still far from being a playoff-caliber team. Turnovers didn't exactly keep them from winning the last 3-game stint at home. But in this league, they can be fatal on the road no matter the opposition is. The Lakers travel to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves (17-25) in their 2nd of 7 games of their "Grammy tour". Like the purple and gold, the T'Wolves are finding it tough to win in 2013 having taken only 3 of their 15 games so far. Then again, they're missing both Kevin Love and Brandon Roy. Love re-fractured his right hand against Portland early January and is expected to be out for nearly the rest of the regular season. He was averaging 18.3 points and 14 rebounds per game before going down with the injury. Roy has had a long battle with knee problems since college and it's resurfacing again. He's played in only 5 games averaging 5.8 points a game for Minnesota this season. Meanwhile, Dwight Howard has been officially listed as day-to-day after having his right shoulder examined on Thursday. He's questionable for tonight's game, but Mike D'Antoni might ask him to sit this one out to give him more time to rest before Sunday's matchup in Detroit. Howard re-injured his shoulder almost halfway through the 4th quarter against the Suns when Shannon Brown blocked his shot attempt. Dwight was on the floor for a few seconds but never returned. With 36 games left and at least 6 games to make up to reach the 8th spot in the west, the Lakers have very little room, if any, for anymore losses. They have to capitalize against an injury-riddled team tonight and make sure they get the win on Sunday versus a 17-29 Pistons team. That's because they have Brooklyn, Boston, Charlotte and Miami to deal with in the coming days before heading back to Los Angeles. The loss in Phoenix was a tough one to take, but they have to shake that off and continue to play on both sides of the floor as a team. It's very important for the Lakers to really start taking each game from here on out very seriously. They have to find a way to come together and develop a killer instinct even if it means ignoring tired legs and whatever little aches and pains they may have. If they fail to improve as a team in this road trip, they probably never will. This is the 1st of 3 meetings against the Timberwolves and the 1st of 2 at Target Center this season. They'll go at it again on Feb. 28th at Staples Center. The Lakers will try to continue their mastery over Minnesota with their 20th-straight victory. The last time they lost to the T'Wolves was way back on March 6, 2007. The Timberwolves have lost 5 in a row and are 11-8 at home this season. The Lakers are looking to snap their 8-game losing streak on the road. Matchup of the Game Steve Nash vs. Ricky Rubio: Neither point guard are known for their defense, but this is going to come down to whichever one can contribute more on offense. Nash has taken on a role of a shooting guard of late averaging 13.7 points on 56.7% shooting from the field and only 3.5 assists per game. Rubio has only scored in double figures just once this season (14 points) and is getting only 5.1 points and 5.2 assists a game on average. But that doesn't mean he won't have his best game of the season tonight. Nash will have to make sure he makes his open shots and play hard on defense. Keys to the Game > Rebounding: The T'Wolves are a good rebounding team averaging 43.9 boards a game. Even without Love, their frontcourt players are all solid under the glass because they're physical and work hard in chasing those missed shots. The Lakers have to box out and rebound as a team, especially if Howard doesn't play tonight. > Stay Focused: The meltdown in the 4th quarter was all due to losing sight of what they needed to do to preserve their lead. The Lakers have to come out ready to play on both ends of the court and sustain it until the final buzzer. > Balanced Attack: Minnesota is actually a statistically better defensive team than the Lakers allowing 96.8 points per game from their opponents compared to 100.9 for the purple and gold. But the Lakers are loaded with players who can score in the paint and outside. They have to use that to their advantage with excellent ball and player movement. Game Info Tonight @ Minnesota Timberwolves Tip-off: 6:30 p.m. (PST) Target Center TV: TWC SportsNet (Southern California)/ESPN (national) Radio: 710 AM ESPN/1330 KWKW Injury Notes LAKERS: Jordan Hill (hip) is out for remainder of season. Dwight Howard (shoulder) is questionable. TIMBERWOLVES: Chase Budinger (knee), Malcome Lee (knee, hip), Kevin Love (hand) and Brandon Roy (knee) are all out.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Pacquiao had injured shoulder, considered postponing fight

Mayweather beats Pacquiao by unanimous decision

Did Evan Mathis respond to Chip Kelly's slight with barb?

WATCH: American Pharoah wins Kentucky Derby

Report: Rams trade RB Zac Stacy to Jets

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Falcons draft pick's house burned down during draft

Packers trade up to draft Brett Hundley

Greg Hardy apologizes for joke about 9/11

Mayweather bans Rachel Nichols, Michelle Beadle from covering fight

Five takeaways from Day 2 of the 2015 NFL Draft

Elite recruit Jaylen Brown commits to California

WATCH: Two games end with baserunners hit by batted balls

WATCH: Damian Lilliard delivers great graduation speech

Jets do not envision Bryce Petty starting in 2015

Clippers beat Spurs on Chris Paul shot in Game 7

Jimmy Kimmel's Manny Pacquiao T-shirt goes viral

Big fight packs airport, leaves no room for planes

Pete Carroll discusses Russell Wilson's contract status

Jim Harbaugh not happy Lou Holtz is out at ESPN

Cubs fans want Harry Caray video for seventh inning stretch

Winners and losers from the NFL draft

Brooklyn Decker expecting first child with Andy Roddick

Michigan using other programs' draftees to recruit players?

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Pacquiao fought with injured shoulder?

Winners and losers from the NFL draft

Report: Zac Stacy traded to Jets

Hardy apologizes for joke about 9/11

Jerry Jones sends letter to Pacquiao

Mayweather bans Beadle, Nichols

WATCH: A-Rod fights back tears

A-Rod hits 660th home run, ties Willie Mays

Mayweather vs. Pacquiao: Celebrities make their picks

Ryan Succop offers to arm-wrestle Marcus Mariota for No. 8

Laila Ali rips Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Peterson wants more money from Vikes

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.