Los Angeles at Phoenix

Venue: US Airways Center
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The Los Angeles Lakers are on a roll heading into their longest road trip of the season, and one of their players should have a little extra motivation to perform well in the opener of that seven-game trek.

In his return to Phoenix, Steve Nash will try to lead the Lakers to a fourth consecutive win while preventing an eighth straight road loss Wednesday night against the Suns.

Nash missed his first chance this season to face the team that drafted him 15th overall in 1996 and brought him back for a second stint with the club spanning eight seasons from 2004-12.

The point guard, who helped the Suns reach the Western Conference finals three times and was named league MVP in 2005 and 2006, was recovering from a small fracture in his left leg during the Lakers' 114-102 home win Nov. 16.

This is his first visit to Phoenix since a sign-and-trade deal - at his request - sent the 38-year-old Nash to Los Angeles for four draft picks over the summer.

"(The Suns) were very apprehensive and didn't want to do it," Nash said at the time. "Fortunately for me, they reconsidered. They saw that they were able to get assets for their team that will make them better."

He should at least get a warm reception from his former teammates. Jared Dudley tweeted in July that Nash "has not only been the best but the most unselfish player I ever played with. I only wish him the best. He deserves everything."

Things haven't gone quite as Nash expected in Los Angeles, but the Lakers (20-25) are hoping their three-game winning streak behind a new style of play is reason for optimism. Nash hit a key 3-pointer with 1:21 remaining in a 111-106 win over New Orleans on Tuesday.

With 12 points, he was one of six Lakers in double figures. Dwight Howard had 24 after being held to single digits in four of the previous five games, and Earl Clark scored 20, his most in nine games as a starter.

Kobe Bryant had double-digit assists for the third straight game with 11 and finished just short of a triple-double again. He had eight rebounds Tuesday after pulling down nine in each of his previous two contests.

"It's working pretty well," Bryant said of his new approach as a playmaker. "It's very easy for me to look over the defense and know where they're coming from, just kind of line my guys up in the right way and just pick them apart."

The Lakers now try to snap their longest road losing streak since they dropped nine in a row March 14-April 5, 2005.

Los Angeles, which is 5-15 on the road, will face a Suns team that's dropped back-to-back games after winning its first two under interim coach Lindsey Hunter. Phoenix (15-30) didn't provide too much of a challenge in a 110-95 loss at Dallas on Sunday.

"We'll get back to work, and make sure we're better prepared next time, and make sure we're a better team on our next showing," Hunter said.

Nash's replacement, Goran Dragic, had a team-best 18 points in the losing effort and scored 22 in the loss to the Lakers in November.

"Every player wants to play well, especially against Steve because he is one of the best point guards," Dragic said.

Bryant scored 31 points and Metta World Peace chipped in 22 in the Lakers' win over the Suns earlier this season, but they've lost their last two games in Phoenix, including a 125-105 defeat April 7.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Game Odds
AwayLineHomeLine
L.A. Lakers -4 Phoenix 4
Standings
TeamStandingsWLPct.GBL 10Strk
LA Lakers5th Pacific 2755.329303-7Won 2
Phoenix3rd Pacific 4834.58595-5Won 1
Injuries
L.A. Lakers
PlayerInjury
P GasolIllness
Phoenix
PlayerInjury
No injuries reported.
 
Key Players
Kobe<br>Bryant
Kobe
Bryant
, SG
38.7 Min. Per Game 27.8 Luis<br>Scola
Luis
Scola
, PF
28.4 Pts. Per Game 13.2
5.3 Ast. Per Game 2.5
5.1 Reb. Per Game 6.4
46.9 Field Goal % 47.2
34.6 Three Point % 10.0
84.0 Free Throw % 76.9
 
Team Rankings
TeamRankPoints
Los Angeles Lakers1382.59
Phoenix Suns2867.62
 
Series Game Log
DateLocationResults
 
Other Games
Det 79 Final
Ind 98
Wash 84 Final
Phi 92
Tor 92 Final
Atl 93
Sac 81 Final
Bos 99
Orl 97 Final
NY 113
Chi 104 Final
Mil 88
LAC 96 Final
Min 90
Mia 105 Final
Brook 85
Char 78 Final
SA 102
Hou 110 Final
Den 118
NO 99 Final
Utah 104