The Los Angeles Lakers hope to start the month of February on a good note when they open a three-game road trip tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center. Mickey Morandini Jersey . The Lakers will also visit Cleveland and Philadelphia, have lost four in a row on the road and are 8-18 as the guest this season. They are 3-12 on the road against Western Conference opponents. Los Angeles is mired in a six-game slide overall and dropped a 110-100 decision to the Charlotte Bobcats the last time out on Friday, when Pau Gasol finished with 24 points and nine rebounds. Nick Young added 21 off the bench and Jodie Meeks scored 19 points for the Lakers, who are only 3-18 in the last 21 games and shot 38.7 percent from the floor. "They just werent ready to play for whatever reason," said Los Angeles head coach Mike DAntoni. "Whether its the end of January, who knows, but its inexcusable." As has been the case almost all season, injuries are the main story for the Lakers. Kobe Bryant (knee) wont travel with the team on this trip and it was announced Gasol (groin) would also stay in LA for rehab. However, there is some good news as all three injured point guards, Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar, appear ready to return to the lineup. "Theyre all good," DAntoni said. "I think theyre all ready to go. Theres a possibility all three could play (at Minnesota)." Lakers center Chris Kaman is probable Tuesday because of a sore knee and he has missed the previous seven games. He might get the starting call with Gasol shelved, although Kaman has basically fallen out of the rotation. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves have dropped two in a row and three of five games, including Saturdays 120-113 setback at Atlanta. Kevin Love pumped in 43 points and grabbed 19 rebounds, while Kevin Martin and J.J. Barea added 17 and 12 points, respectively, for the Timberwolves, who finished shooting 44 percent from the field. Barea was ejected with 6:43 left in the fourth quarter after receiving his second technical foul. "I didnt even know I had it (43 points) until I think Martin told me after the game. I was just trying to get us back in the game by any means," Love said. "Teammates set me up with a lot of good shots. A loss, especially right now, is tough." Love has posted three straight double-doubles and nine in the last 10 games, posting an average of 25.3 points and 13.3 rebounds in that time. Minnesota has dropped 11 straight in Atlanta and will visit Oklahoma City and New Orleans after hosting the Lakers. The TWolves, who are 13-9 in the Twin Cities, have split two meetings with Los Angeles this season and will host the Lakers on March 28. The Lakers have won 26 of the last 28 matchups with Minnesota and are unbeaten in 11 straight and 12 of 13 contests at the Target Center. Custom Kosuke Fukudome Jersey . Each day, TSN.ca provides the latest rumours, reports and speculation from around the NHL beat. Defensive Depth TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun is reporting the Toronto Maple Leafs have considerable interest in unrestricted free-agent defenceman Dan Boyle. Bill Buckner Jersey . Irving played 10 minutes Sunday night before going to the locker room. He had two points and four assists, missing all five of his shots. The All-Star game MVP is the top scorer among Eastern Conference point guards with 21.LONDON - Lionel Messi left FIFAs awards ceremony without a personal accolade again. Collecting a copy of FIFAs weekly magazine on the way out might have been worthwhile if he really needs to convince Barcelona of his ongoing value.Flick through to Sepp Blatters musing, and the FIFA president declares: Barcelona would scarcely have become the gold standard in European football without Lionel Messis 400 goals.Such an ego-boost will hardly make up for seeing Cristiano Ronaldo collect the Ballon DOr for the second successive year. With commercial strategies now as scrutinized as the coachs tactics in football, the perception is that Real Madrid was more active lobbying for Ronaldo than Barcelona was for its four-time Ballon DOr winner.Messi hardly gave the perception of being a loyal Barcelona employee when he faced the cameras in Zurich. Rather than just responding to the inevitable question about his future with the usual declaration of loyalty to the club that turned him into one of the best players of all time, the Argentina captain seemed intentionally ambiguous.I am not sure where I will be next year, said the academy graduate under contract at the Camp Nou until 2019.Nobody knows what the future holds. Much less in the case of the football world, where so many things can change overnight.Thats particularly true when Messis relationship with the Barcelona board and coach Luis Enrique is reputed to be far from harmonious. Occasionally even a player as gifted as Messi needs to be indulged, not just in his pay packet.Hes not as straightforward as he used to be, Esteve Calzada, former Barcelona chief marketing and commercial officer, told The Associated Press. He would say, Barcelona is my own team. I will retire here. Something went wrong ... hes older, maybe prepared to listen to other things. I find it difficult to believe he will spend his whole career at Barcelona.The all-time top scorer in the Champions League is undoubtedly coveted, but when you are the most talented player alongside Ronaldo your freedom of movement becomes limited.There are the four years remaining on his contract and a 250 million-euro ($295-million) buyout clause. Then factor in Messis ability to command an annual gross salary of 50 million euros ($59 million). A club could need the ability to cover 500 million euros ($590 million) over five years to fund the signing of the 27-year-olld forward — a potential cost on the balance sheets of 100 million euros ($118 million) a season. Moises Alou Jersey. In European football, that is far tougher with clubs losses restricted under UEFAs Financial Fair Play regulations. English clubs have the edge potentially over Barcas other European rivals because of the wealth generated from Premier League and Champions League television revenue.For any club thinking of buying Messi, there would be some eye-watering numbers to consider, said sports lawyer Daniel Geey of London-based Fieldfisher. There are only a few clubs that have such deep pockets.Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain with their UEFA imposed FFP spending restrictions would be hard placed to finance such a transfer, yet it may not be beyond the realms of possibility for Chelsea, Manchester United or Bayern Munich to finance such a deal through profits made, selling existing players or finding additional revenue streams to cover such expenditure.Why, though, would Barcelona contemplate selling Messi? Particularly when the end of the season sees early presidential elections at the fan-owned team. Also factor in that any fee received in the summer transfer window could not be reinvested until 2016 due to a ban on any transfers imposed by FIFA for breaching rules on signing minors.For the current board it would not be good for them to go to the election with the fact they would be selling the best player in the club history, Calzada said. And what would they do with the money?In the absence of the usual campaign pledges to sign players, extending the Argentines contract could become an election tool.The official word from Barcelona on Wednesday was that Messi is not for sale.We all think that Messi will be at Barcelona for years to come, that is what all (Barcelona fans) want, Enrique said. We dont contemplate a squad without Messi.One day, of course, that will come. Whether that is at the end of his career or when Barcelona finds an opportune moment to cash in on his brilliance might not become clear for a few more years.Barcelona is a very demanding environment, said Calzada, chief executive of London-based Prime Time Sport, which represents players and advises clubs. His type of play is based on speed. As he will get older, he will not always be the best player in the world.___Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris ' ' '
Timberwolves at Target
Timberwolves at Target