Suns vs. Lakers: Matchups to Watch at Staples Center

Mathias AskCorrespondent IIFebruary 12, 2013

The Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns will be squaring off tonight.
The Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns will be squaring off tonight.Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Tonight at the Staples Center, the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers will be facing off for the third time this season.

The last time these two met was on January 30 in Phoenix, ending in a 92-86 Suns victory.

Since then the Suns (17-35) have fallen to last place in the Western Conference, while the Lakers (24-28) have won four out of six games and are now 3 ½ games behind the No. 8 Houston Rockets.

This is a game Los Angeles can’t afford to lose if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive.

While the Lakers have not played up to their potential this season, they are still talented enough to take down the Suns.

Here are the key match ups for tonight.


Steve Nash vs. Goran Dragic

Dragic was Nash’s back-up in Phoenix, so in a sense this is a student vs. teacher duel. Dragic is averaging career highs in both scoring, 14.2 PPG, and assists, 6.3 this season.

Nash didn’t play in the Lakers’ win against the Suns on November 16 and has only his 11 points, two assists and two turnovers performance from January 30 to look back on.

Dragic, on the other hand, has been on fire against the Lakers this season. In the first game of the season series, he had 22 points and seven assists, despite the loss.

Two weeks ago, he contributed 11 points and eight assists.

Stopping Dragic will be the key to victory for the Lakers.


Dwight Howard vs. Marcin Gortat

This is another battle between former teammates.

Gortat got the better of Howard last time they met. While Howard had two more rebounds than Gortat, he re-injured himself and couldn’t match the Suns center’s double-double.

Gortat’s last two games, both against Oklahoma City, weren’t exactly a confidence boost. He could only come up with six and two points respectively.

Luckily for the Lakers, Howard is looking fit for a fight after 41 minutes against Miami, where had 15 points and nine rebounds.  


Kobe Bryant vs. Jared Dudley

Dudley is going to be tasked with the job every Lakers opponent has dreaded since 1996.

He’s going to be guarding Kobe Bryant.

In recent days, there have been plenty of trade rumors involving Dudley, and it will be interesting to see how this affects his preparation going into the game.

Kobe Bryant continues to defy age and is putting together one of his best seasons.

He could be headed for a big game tonight with upwards of 30 points.