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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Sunday, January 29th (All times eastern)

Los Angeles Lakers (11-9) at Minnesota Timberwolves (9-10), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Lakers will finish a two-day tour of the Midwest on Sunday aiming for their 16th consecutive win over the much-improved Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Wolves haven't beaten LA since March 6, 2007 but this is a much different Minnesota team and for that matter a much more pedestrian Lakers club.

With a win tonight the Timberwolves would be at .500 after 20 games for the first time since it was 22-22 on Jan. 30, 2007. Meanwhile, LA is a very uncharacteristic 1-7 away from SoCal this season after falling, 100-89, to a Bucks team without Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson in Milwaukee on Saturday.

Kobe Bryant had 27 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in that one to lead the Lakers while Pau Gasol chipped in 12 points and 15 rebounds. Andrew Goudelock scored 13 off the bench and Andrew Bynum added 15 points and nine rebounds for LA.

"I can only speak about tonight (but) Milwaukee was a much more physical team defensively," said Bryant. "They made it uncomfortable."

LA's road record is currently the worst in the Western Conference with a very difficult stretch looming. After tonight's contest the Lakers will make a short stop home to face off with Charlotte before kicking off a six-game trek in Denver.

In its most recent affair, Minnesota topped San Antonio at Target Center, 87-79, behind Kevin Love's 18 points and 16 rebounds, his 18th double-double of the season.

The Timberwolves scored the final 10 points of the game in that one to beat the Spurs for the second time in a row. Minnesota also topped San Antonio on Jan. 2 at home, snapping a 16-game losing streak in that series.

Rookie point guard Ricky Rubio scored 18 points with 10 assists while Nikola Pekovic had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

"We want to just continue to get better," Love said, looking forward to the chance to reach .500 this weekend, "and especially in the fourth quarter when it's close."

Love called Rubio, who entered the NBA with an already sparkling reputation as a playmaker, a "great" player. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich didn't need to be told that, calling the 6-foot-4 Spaniard a "heck of a passer" with a good ability to read situations on the court.

"He's like a football quarterback," Popovich said.

01/29 10:44:47 ET