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Preview: Lakers vs. Celtics

February 20, 2013|By Eric Pincus
  • The last time the Lakers faced the Celtics, Paul Pierce led Boston with 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
The last time the Lakers faced the Celtics, Paul Pierce led Boston with 24… (Charles Krupa / Associated…)

The Lakers (25-28) host the Boston Celtics (28-25) on Wednesday night. It's odd timing that the two longtime rivals will meet as the Lakers' first battle since the death of Jerry Buss -- beating the Celtics was always a top priority for the late team owner.

The Lakers have been off since Thursday, pausing for the All-Star break. Boston played the Nuggets in Denver on Tuesday night, losing 97-90.

The Lakers should be able to give a better performance than their 116-95 loss in Boston on Feb. 7. They certainly need to.

Key matchup

Metta World Peace needs to do a much better job against Paul Pierce.

In their last meeting, Pierce led the Celtics with 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting with seven rebounds and six assists. Boston as a team shot 52.9% from the field.

World Peace scored just five points, mired in a slump while shooting two-of-13 from the field. If the mercurial forward can have an efficient night offensively while slowing down Pierce's attack, the Lakers will have a strong chance against the Celtics.

X-factor

Dwight Howard hasn't been a dominant force for the Lakers this season -- not consistently. He's battled back from shoulder injuries and should be rested -- despite his trip to Houston for the All-Star Game.

Against the Celtics last time, Howard scored just nine points with nine boards before fouling out. He also had four turnovers against one assist.

Boston's Kevin Garnett struggled early defensively against Howard, picking up two quick fouls. Garnett recovered and finished strong on both sides of the ball, scoring 15 points with five boards and three assists.

Outlook

Because the Celtics so thoroughly dominated when the teams played in Boston, it's difficult to pick the Lakers.

With 30 games left in the season, the Lakers still have an opportunity to climb into the playoffs in the West -- but that has to start with wins at home against teams such as the Celtics.

ALSO:

Phil Jackson says Lakers aren't using Dwight Howard properly

Mitch Kupchak reiterates that Dwight Howard will not be traded

Lakers' Pau Gasol says he's made good progress with foot injury

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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