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Brooklyn Nets face Los Angeles Lakers to start tough schedule

History awaits. So does a tough schedule. A win Tuesday against the Lakers would be a significant milestone for the Nets, a six-game win streak that would be their first of that length in eight long years. It would also give some of the Nets some satisfaction after enduring the horrors of the Dwightmare.

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Tim Bontemps via Twitter

And now, the soap opera portion of the Dwightmare. On Monday. Rod Boone asked Dwight Howard at Lakers practice if he thought he needed to smooth over relations with his old friend Deron Williams. Williams was upset last March 15 when in the middle of the night, flying home from a road game Howard decided to stay in Orlando, sign off on his early termination option. The Nets, including D-Will, thought he would be a Net the next morning. Now, he's a Laker.

"That’s my decision. It’s my life so if he’s upset because I made a decision for me, so be it. If he doesn’t want to be friends because I’m on another team, then so be it. There’s no need to smooth things over, you know?" responded Howard, who earlier in the day said he expected to soften up Brook Lopez with a "knock in the chest."

"Dwight was never (an option for the Nets)," Williams told USA TODAY Sports on Monday. "I don't think (the Magic) were ever going to trade him to us, so it doesn't matter. When he opted in (to his contract for another season in mid-March), it kind of took that option away."

Oh, well. What has ended for the Nets is a soft part of their schedule. No more home-and-homes with the now-lowly Orlando Magic. The Nets game vs. the Lakers Tuesday night is the beginning of a blistering stretch of games that extends into January. After the Lakers, the Nets play, in order, the Warriors in Oakland then head home for Thanksgiving and the Clippers, Trailblazers and Knicks over a four-day stretch.

Not impressed yet? On Christmas, it's a nationally televised rematch with the Celtics ... in Brooklyn. If that wasn't enough, there's a Florida road trip to Orlando and Miami bridging the New Year and a home game vs. the Thunder on January 4. What? No Grizzlies? With the exception of the Magic, all those teams have .500 records or better.

Of course, they have to get past the Lakers Tuesday. L.A. is without Steve Nash (leg) and maybe Steve Blake (abdomen). Also, Howard claims he's only 75 to 80 percent. But Tuesday may be Mike Dantoni's debut as coach (he's still on crutches from recent surgery) and the Lakers' first chance to get above .500. They're 5-5 now and starting to look like the monster club Mitch Kupchak designed over the summer. Against the Rockets, Kobe Bryant had a triple double and Howard had 28 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. He's promised to continue his dominance of Brook Lopez. Did we mention Pau Gasol? No, we did not, but we should have.

Lopez wasn't taking the bait. He was asked about Howard's comment that he was going to knock the Nets center in the chest. "At least he said what he's going to do," replied a smiling Lopez, who added that every time they play each other, "He's a good challenge for me."

The Nets well understand the importance of the game. A win gives them more than a "W." It's a chance to remind Howard of how much he pained them for nearly a year. That's particularly important for Williams, who is (was?) friendly with Howard and Lopez, whose skillset was always diminished in trade scenarios. Although he hasn't spoke publicly about it, those close to MarShon Brooks say he was very much affected by having his name bandied about in trade talks.

How big would a win be? We'll let Calder Hynes, new to the Nets PR staff, describe it...

--It would end an eight game losing streak against the Lakers dating back to 02/05/08.

--It would be the first time they were five games over .500 since 12/30/05, eight seasons ago.

--t would be the first time they won two consecutive road games against Western Conference opponents since 3/30/12, defeating Golden State 102-100, and 3/31/12, beating the Sacramento Kings 111-99.

--It would run their season-long winning streak to six games, the first such winning streak since a six game stretch between 3/12/06 and 3/21/06, eight seasons ago.

The Nets got in a bit of history Monday. They practiced at the UCLA gym where John Wooden put his 11 NCAA champions through the mill. Deron Williams didn't practice (dental procedure) and wouldn't have (elbow). He is expected to be ready Tuesday. In fact, for the second straight game, all 15 Nets will be ready to go. Talk about your milestones!