Lakers try to get on track, extend domination over Minny

Updated: March 27, 2013

The Los Angeles Lakers are starting to stumble at the worst
possible time, but at least they have the Minnesota Timberwolves on the docket
Wednesday night from the Target Center.

The Lakers are mired in a three-game losing streak and lost for the fourth
time in six tries with Monday’s 109-103 loss to the Golden State Warriors in
the opener of a four-game road trip. Kobe Bryant’s 36 points weren’t enough
and Dwight Howard finished with 11 points and 15 boards for the Lakers, who
are just a game ahead of Utah and Dallas for the eighth and final playoff spot
in the competitive Western Conference.

“We’re trying to get into the playoffs right now. That’s more of a
disappointment,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “But we still have time to
figure it out. Still have time to get into the playoffs, still have time to
make an impact. But time is running out.”

Part of L.A.’s problem is playing on the road. The Lakers are just 13-23 as
the visitor and still have Milwaukee and Sacramento on the trek.

Los Angeles hopes to end its current slide against a Minnesota team it has
beaten 21 times in a row. The Lakers are 24-1 in the last 25 meetings and have
taken the first two matchups between the teams this season.

The Lakers have enjoyed success in the Twin Cities, winning their past 10
visits there.

In injury news for the Lakers, forward Metta World Peace has a lateral
meniscus tear in his left knee and is back in L.A. World Peace, who was
injured in Monday’s loss at Golden State, underwent an MRI on Tuesday in
Minneapolis which revealed the tear. The player formally known as Ron Artest
is averaging 12.8 points and 5.1 rebounds this season.

Meanwhile, the Timberwolves have split their last six games and will open a
tough four-game homestand Wednesday versus the Lakers, Thunder, Grizzlies and
Celtics — all playoff-hopeful teams.

Minnesota recorded a 105-82 win at Detroit its last time out on Tuesday thanks
to 21 points off the bench by J.J. Barea. Nikola Pekovic ended with 18 points
and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who came into the game off a 104-97 loss
to Chicago on Sunday. Luke Ridnour tallied 15 points and Ricky Rubio had 14
points and nine assists.

“We were due for a night like this,” said Barea, who made five of the Wolves’
14 3-pointers (14-of-26). “Our starters started getting hot, and we kept the
flow going.”

Rubio has been hot as of late with averages of 14.1 points, 7.9 assists and
5.8 rebounds in his last nine games. He will try to keep up the pace and lead
Minnesota to its first win over the Lakers since March 6, 2007.