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Coming (Very) Soon: Dwight Howard vs. Brook Lopez, etc., etc.

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The Dwightmare is over. The Nets and Dwight Howard moved on. Now, they will finally get to match talent and wit rather than prospective trade scenarios.

Christopher Hanewinckel-US PRESSWIRE

Expect the hype to build over the next two days. It's won't be just Lakers vs. Nets. It will be Dwight Howard vs. Brook Lopez. It will be Mike D'Antoni's first game coaching the Lakers. It will be the Lakers first opportunity to get over .500 after a bad start that led to much sturm and drang in LA-LA Land, including Mike Brown's firing. On the Nets side, it will be about trying to extend their winning streak to six, the longest since before Jason Kidd left for Dallas.

Howard, who said he sooo wanted to play in Brooklyn, is now happily ensconced in Los Angeles and awaiting the Nets and the guy he was almost traded for.

"He’s tough. He knows how to score," said Howard of Lopez. "But the main thing is making him work on the other end, making him run even though I’m not in the best shape. Just make him run and force him to get out and play pick-and-rolls. A lot of bigs don’t like that so we’ll do that a couple times and then hit him in the chest a couple times on the offensive end and that will tire him out."

Perhaps trying to lower expectations, Howard said that despite his 28-13-3 performance and Omer Asik of the Rockets he's only about 75 to 80 percent back from his back surgery and he and Kobe Bryant haven't clicked yet.

The game will be a real test for the Nets, most of whose wins have come against teams with sub-.500 records.