The Minnesota Timberwolves remain without their starting center, and now the Los Angeles Lakers don't have theirs. While that's had quite a negative impact on the Timberwolves, the banged-up Lakers can't do any worse.
Los Angeles has added Pau Gasol to its injury list but could get some backcourt depth following a weekend break. The possible return of Steve Nash and Steve Blake - along with the Timberwolves missing Nikola Pekovic - might help the Lakers avoid their worst losing streak and first defeat in Minnesota in nearly seven years Tuesday night.
Idle since a 110-100 loss to Charlotte on Friday, Los Angeles (16-31) took a day off before practicing Sunday with Nash, Blake and fellow point guard Jordan Farmar participating.
"They looked good. I think they came through it OK," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "... They're all hoping to play."
While Farmar (hamstring) is unlikely to play Tuesday, Nash (back) could return to the court three days shy of his 40th birthday and Blake (elbow) may be back, too. Nash hasn't played since Nov. 10, Blake since Dec. 10 and Farmar since New Year's Eve. Kobe Bryant and Xavier Henry remain sidelined by knee problems.
Gasol won't return until next week at the earliest due to a strained groin. He had scored at least 20 points in each of the Lakers' last 10 games.
"It's tough, I was looking forward to getting out there with Pau again," Blake said. "Losing our go-to guy right now, the rest of us have to make up for what he does."
It's possible Gasol has played his last game in a Lakers uniform with rumors swirling he'll be dealt before the Feb. 20 trade deadline. Dealing the high-priced veteran might make sense for a team significantly closer to the worst record in the Western Conference than a playoff spot after losing 18 of 21.
That stretch includes three six-game losing streaks, though they haven't had a longer one since March 2-15, 2007.
That skid includes Los Angeles' last defeat in Minneapolis. The Lakers have since won 12 straight there, though their 22-game win streak in the series was snapped with a 113-90 defeat Nov. 10.
Pekovic had a double-double that night and in a 104-91 road loss to the Lakers on Dec. 20, but he'll miss a fourth straight game Tuesday due to bursitis in his right ankle. Minnesota (23-24) managed to beat a New Orleans team missing four starters, including big man Anthony Davis, in its first game without Pekovic but has lost the last two.
"To not have Peck in a game like this, really the last (three) games, it's really tough, just because he takes up so much space," Kevin Love said after Saturday's 120-113 loss in Atlanta. "You're having to make up for 20 points and 10 rebounds."
Love tried to do that, totaling 43 points and 19 boards despite a sore ankle, but the Timberwolves fell to 0-3 when he scores 40.
"My teammates set me up with a lot of good shots but, yeah, a loss right now, it's just tough," said Love, who added that his ankle didn't feel good.
Love had 25 points and 13 rebounds in both meetings this season and now faces a Lakers team allowing a league-worst 112.1 points per game in 2014.
Los Angeles has surrendered at least 100 in 14 consecutive games, matching its longest such streak since a 17-game span in 1986-87.
"I think we're all together," D'Antoni said. "We're all frustrated. Nobody's happy, but you gotta battle."