The Lakers (25-28) host the Boston Celtics (28-25) on Wednesday night. It's odd timing that the two longtime rivals will meet as the Lakers' first battle since the death of Jerry Buss -- beating the Celtics was always a top priority for the late team owner.
The Lakers have been off since Thursday, pausing for the All-Star break. Boston played the Nuggets in Denver on Tuesday night, losing 97-90.
The Lakers should be able to give a better performance than their 116-95 loss in Boston on Feb. 7. They certainly need to.
In their last meeting, Pierce led the Celtics with 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting with seven rebounds and six assists. Boston as a team shot 52.9% from the field.
World Peace scored just five points, mired in a slump while shooting two-of-13 from the field. If the mercurial forward can have an efficient night offensively while slowing down Pierce's attack, the Lakers will have a strong chance against the Celtics.
Dwight Howard hasn't been a dominant force for the Lakers this season -- not consistently. He's battled back from shoulder injuries and should be rested -- despite his trip to Houston for the All-Star Game.
Against the Celtics last time, Howard scored just nine points with nine boards before fouling out. He also had four turnovers against one assist.
Boston's Kevin Garnett struggled early defensively against Howard, picking up two quick fouls. Garnett recovered and finished strong on both sides of the ball, scoring 15 points with five boards and three assists.
Because the Celtics so thoroughly dominated when the teams played in Boston, it's difficult to pick the Lakers.
With 30 games left in the season, the Lakers still have an opportunity to climb into the playoffs in the West -- but that has to start with wins at home against teams such as the Celtics.ALSO: email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.