LOS ANGELES - With 13 games remaining and a murderous stretch of games beginning Friday night against the Lakers in Los Angeles, one question looms for the Timberwolves, thumped in road games on Sunday in Golden State and Wednesday in Utah:
What do they have left to play for?
After Wednesday's 119-104 loss, Wolves coach Kurt Rambis mentioned the difference between the Jazz, still chasing the final Western Conference playoff spot, and his team, which he admitted hasn't played for anything tangible at least since the All-Star break.
So what's the answer?
"I love to play basketball," Rambis said. "If they don't love to play, it's probably going to be hard. They have to find the joy in playing, the joy in winning, the joy in competing, the joy in playing hard."
That kind of joy was hard to find Wednesday in Utah, where the Wolves trailed by 26 points before halftime and allowed guard C.J. Miles a career-high 40 points.
"You've got to look at yourself in the mirror," veteran point guard Luke Ridnour said. "We're getting paid to play a game, and at the end of the day we're pretty blessed to be here. We've got to take advantage of that, if nothing else continue to play and compete for ourselves.
"Obviously, we haven't won the amount of games as we would have liked, but we're still playing and we got to play it out until there are no more games left. We've got to try to get as many wins as we can."
The schedule maker has made that job tougher in the next 10 days. After Friday's game at Los Angeles and Sunday's home game against Sacramento, the Wolves face Dallas, Oklahoma City, Boston, Chicago and Miami in succession.
"I like that at this point," forward Kevin Love said. "I think it's fun. You know there's going to be big crowds. Just to put ourselves in those situations and see how we react, it will tell a lot about us."
Asked whether that stretch of games is as close to the playoffs as this team will get, Love said, "Just about, at this point."