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Preview: Lakers at Phoenix Suns

March 18, 2013|By Eric Pincus
  • Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace apply pressure to Phoenix Suns forward Michael Beasley.
Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace apply pressure to Phoenix Suns forward… (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles…)

The Lakers (36-32) have yet to win on two consecutive days this season.  After a victory Sunday, they have the chance to get their first such pair of back-to-back wins in 14 tries as they visit the Phoenix Suns (22-45) on Monday.

The Suns, losers of four straight, are tied for the worst record in the Western Conference.  The Lakers lost in Phoenix on Jan. 30 in a game where Dwight Howard reaggravated his injured shoulder (torn labrum).

The Suns almost made it two in a row on Feb. 12 but the Lakers had a fourth-quarter surge to win.  Kobe Bryant scored just four points with eight turnovers but Howard finished with 19 points and 18 rebounds.

Bryant is questionable Monday with a sprained ankle and a case of the flu.

Key matchup

The Suns will be likely turn to veteran Jermaine O'Neal (with center Marcin Gortat out for the season) to guard Howard. O'Neal isn't the All-Star he was in Indiana but he can still defend and rebound.

Howard has played some of his best basketball since the All-Star break.  The Lakers will need him to dominate if Bryant is out.

X-factor

The Suns start the Morris twins (Marcus and Markieff). Goran Dragic and Jared Dudley can have big games.  There's always one guy who seems to light up the Lakers time and time again: forward Michael Beasley.

Beasley is averaging 19.7 points a game against the Lakers on 50% shooting (42.9% from three).

The Lakers have been getting tremendous play of late from Steve Blake and Antawn Jamison.  Blake and Steve Nash have played well together sharing the backcourt.  Jamison's improving outside shot is spreading the floor.

Outlook

The Lakers are playing one of the worst teams in the league but the Suns are feisty. 

It's another game the Lakers need to win as they try to climb in the Western Conference.

ALSO:

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Pau Gasol says his foot soreness expected, not sure about return

George Hill bemoans Lakers fans taking over in Indiana

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

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