Dwight Howard, Steve Nash Lead Lakers Against Suns

The Los Angeles Lakers play the Phoenix Suns on the second night of a back-to-back as Steve Nash returns to Phoenix for the second time, and Kobe Bryant is out, so Monday offers another glimpse into Lakers basketball with Dwight Howard leading the team.

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The Los Angeles Lakers play in Phoenix Monday night against the Suns on the second night of a back-to-back.

The Lakers have yet to win two games in two nights after playing on back-to-back nights on 12 occasions this season. Some argue tired legs for an aging and injury-plagued team hinder the Lakers in the second game of back-to-backs, but the Lakers have won five of their 12 games on the second night of back-to-backs this season.

Recently, the Lakers were provided a path to overcome the back-to-back mental block. After an easy night in Orlando where the Lakers shot free throws for most of the night, the Lakers took a short flight to Atlanta to face a Hawks team that was missing several key players.

In the infamous Dahntay or Didn’thay game, the Lakers missed shots all night long and failed to capitalize on a golden opportunity to walk out of Atlanta with their first back-to-back sweep of the season.

On Monday, fate has afforded the Lakers another opportunity at back-to-back redemption.

Marcin Gortat, the Suns’ top center, sprained his foot and may miss the remainder of the season. The Lakers are without Pau Gasol, and Kobe Bryant was also ruled out on Monday afternoon. However, that should not provide LA with any excuses considering their recent play without the superstar duo.

In Indiana, the Lakers showed grit, fight, and heart as they came together as a team for their most impressive road win of the season. Against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, the Lakers proved Indiana was no fluke. This team can move the basketball and play defense. Dwight Howard is as healthy as he’s been in LA, and they have some offensive weapon that can light up the scoreboard—even without Gasol and Bryant.

Monday night in Phoenix, the Lakers look to continue the positive string of results.

Back on Jan. 30, the Lakers were in a similar position as they will be on Monday night. The Lakers had won a game at home against the New Orleans Hornets the night before, and the Suns were waiting on the back-end of the back-to-back. It was Steve Nash’s first game back in Phoenix, but the emotional return was overshadowed by the 13-point fourth quarter collapse of the Lakers.

Along with Dwight Howard re-aggravating his shoulder injury with about seven minutes remaining, the Lakers were unable to contain Michael Beasley for the duration of the fourth quarter. It was such an epic collapse that the team still talked about the “missed opportunity” against the Suns two weeks later.

On Monday night, the Lakers look to undo their back-to-back curse and provide Nash a proper (winning) return to Phoenix.

In the bigger playoffs picture, the Lakers are only two games back of Golden State for the sixth seed—a potential first round date with the Clippers. With Utah on their heels, and Houston only ahead by a nose, every win counts for the Lakers.

Tip-off for Lakers at Suns from is at 7 p.m. PT.

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