The Washington Wizards -- featuring Bradley Beal, John Wall and Jan Vesely… (Rob Carr / Getty Images )
For the second week in a row, the Lakers won three out of four games. The one loss in Atlanta might have gone differently had Dahntay Jones been called for a foul on a crucial Kobe Bryant fadeaway. The NBA later ruled that the play was called incorrectly by the officials - but the Lakers don't get any sort of redo.
After two-straight wins, the Lakers have climbed to four games above .500 (36-32). The coming week is light with just two games on the schedule.
The Lakers gained another game and are now just two losses below the cumulative predictions for weeks 1-20.
Monday at Phoenix Suns
The Lakers haven't won on back-to-back nights all season. Monday will be their 14th chance after their win on Sunday over the Sacramento Kings.
The Suns (22-45) have been a difficult opponent for the Lakers this season but Marcin Gortat -- Dwight Howard's former teammate in Orlando -- is out with a foot injury. Kobe Bryant is up in the air (ankle, flu) but Howard should have the size advantage in Phoenix.
Michael Beasley has torched the Lakers this season. He'll get one more chance in what will be the final meeting between Pacific Division foes.
The Suns benefit if the Lakers finish in the lottery. The Lakers sent their 2013 first-rounder (unprotected) to Phoenix for Steve Nash. If the Lakers do make the playoffs, the Suns will get the Miami Heat's first round pick instead (through multiple trades involving the Cleveland Cavaliers).
Phoenix will be playing to win but the talent on the floor is limited.
Friday vs. Washington Wizards
The Lakers may have Bryant and Pau Gasol back by Friday. Gasol is trying to get healthy after six weeks out with a foot injury.
The Washington Wizards (23-42) will be a difficult team to beat if the Lakers aren't at full strength. Washington is a lot better than their record. John Wall missed 33 games but the team is 18-14 since his return.
The Wizards have solid veterans like Nene, Emeka Okafor, former Laker Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster. The backcourt pair of rookie Bradley Beal and Wall are a lot to deal with.
Washington has won just five games all year on the road. They'd love to play spoiler and might -- but a healthy, focused Lakers with three days' rest should be up to the task.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.