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Timberwolves in L.A. for Games vs. Lakers, Clippers

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The Wolves get to spend a couple of days in Los Angeles, something they will no doubt enjoy. Back to back at Staples vs. the Lakers and Clippers.

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Wolves flew to Los Angeles after their loss in Portland Sunday to prepare for back to back games at Staples Center, tonight against the Lakers and tomorrow against the Clippers.  Being in L.A. is probably pretty sweet for professional athletes, and while who knows what they get up to most of the time, we do know this happened:

So that looks like fun.

The Lakers are one of the handful of teams legitimately worse than the Wolves, and not getting this one would be disappointing. The Wolves have beaten the Lakers in both previous meetings this season, albeit by one point each time, the most recent a 123-122 overtime win at Target Center that featured, if you recall, Kevin Martin's biggest game of the year when he dropped in 37 and made six threes.

Perhaps of interest, this is the final meeting of the season between the teams, which means it's the last time the Wolves will face Kobe Bryant. In 63 career games against the Wolves, Bryant has averaged 24-5-5, which is more or less his career.

Of course this isn't the same Kobe, as both he and the Lakers are bottoming out this season, which will be his last. The Lakers are 9-41, hold the 2nd worst record in the league (Philadelphia), and are five games behind the Wolves and Suns as the worst team in the Western Conference. They are on a 10 game losing streak, and after facing the Wolves have another brutal stretch with seven of eight on the road against tough competition.

As an aside, this is yet another NBA TV game. Great. Hey NBA TV: these teams have combined for 23 wins. You couldn't find something better to put on? Like some random Nuggets game from the 80s?

In other, somewhat dispiriting though not surprising news, Nikola Pekovic is struggling with pain in his feet 12 games into his return after 10 months and another surgery. It's seeming less and less likely that Pek's body will ever allow him to play without pain and with his former effectiveness, which is disappointing to fans, and obviously frustrating to Pek. We'll see how this plays out, but it wouldn't surprise me to see him shut it down once again at some point before the end of the season.

Elsewhere, Jeff Hornacek was fired as Suns head coach, which is often what happens when you are 14-35 on the season. Things were not going well.  Still, Hornacek was arguably a victim of his own surprising success. The Suns appear to have significantly overachieved in his first year, winning 48 games, and perhaps setting expectations at an unreasonable level. After hovering around .500 through most of last season, the front office did him no short term favors with their trade deadline exchanges, and this year things fell apart.  I suspect Hornacek will get another opportunity at some point, but Phoenix has moved on, naming Earl Watson(!) as interim coach.

One more NBA note: Did you notice the Raps have won 11 in a row (pending tonight's result in Denver)? The schedule has been easy, and they are embarking on a six game road trip starting tonight (that will bring them to Target Center on February 10th in the last game before the All-Star break), but the are now only 3 behind Cleveland in the loss column. I've always had a soft spot for the Raps, so I'm happy to see them playing well, and would love to see them have some playoff success this season.

Today in History

962: Otto I of Germany is proclaimed Great Emperor (HRE). 
1536: Date given for founding of Buenos Aires
1709: Alexander Selkirk (inspiration for Robinson Crusoe) rescued after being marooned for five years. Without Ginger. Or Mary Ann. 
1848: Treaty of Guadeloupe Hildalgo ends Mexican-American War; U.S. acquires Texas, California, New Mexico, and Arizona. 
1887: Groundhog Day first observed in Punxsutawney, PA. 
1901: Funeral of Queen Victoria
1909: Filippo Marinetti publishes Futurist Manifesto 
1913: Grand Central Terminal opens in New York
1922: James Joyce's Ulysses published in Paris
1932: Al Capone enters prison in Atlanta, GA
1933: Adolph Hitler dissolves the Reichstag two days after becoming Chancellor
1943: Germans surrender at Stalingrad
1964: G.I. Joe first appears on toy shelves
1971: Idi Amin takes over as dictator of Uganda

Today's musical birthday is jazz saxophonist Stan Getz, born in 1927 (d. 1991)

Have a great Tuesday.