Brooklyn's Deron Williams attempts to dribble around Miami's… (Wilfredo Lee / Associated…)
At least one all-star center will be on the floor Tuesday as the Lakers (22-26) visit the Brooklyn Nets (28-19), but will there be two?
Dwight Howard is still a question mark with a shoulder injury. Team officials were hopeful he would be available against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday but he was still in too much pain.
Brooklyn's Brook Lopez was named as Rajon Rondo's replacement on the Eastern Conference all-star team after the Boston star went down for the season with a knee injury.
The Lakers knocked off the Nets on Nov. 20, marking the debut of Coach Mike D'Antoni. Howard was a force with 23 points and 15 rebounds with four blocks, although he missed 12 of 19 free-throw attempts.
Lopez led the way for Brooklyn with 23 points on 11-for-18 shooting, but the Nets finished five points short.
Since their last meeting, P.J. Carlesimo has taken over the coaching duties from Avery Johnson. His team has responded well -- the Nets will be a difficult challenge for the Lakers.
The Nets tried to trade Lopez to the Orlando Magic to get Howard, but the franchise is happy with what Lopez has done this season. If Howard plays, the big-man matchup is the one to watch.
Steve Nash missed the first meeting with a leg injury. He'll certainly give the Nets something to deal with offensively, but Nash is not the guy to guard Deron Williams. That job may fall to Kobe Bryant, with Metta World Peace guarding Joe Johnson.
The Lakers always seem to struggle against any team with Gerald Wallace. Although Wallace isn't having the best year in Brooklyn, hit athleticism and energy always seem to be a problem defensively.
Steve Blake will get minutes against Williams. Guarding the point is rarely a strength for the Lakers, and Williams is a tough cover.
The Lakers need to make up ground in the standings. Some of that will have to come against quality teams on the road.
The Nets are a much better team than they were in November. This will not be an easy night for the Lakers.
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