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At Dwightmare's End, A Game: Dwight Howard finally plays in Brooklyn!

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets have a 17-0 record against teams with losing records. Tuesday may the biggest challenge they face in keeping that streak alive. The Nets face the Lakers who are still below the .500 threshold with a 22-26 record. They are playing better of late. With Earl Clark playing in place of Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant distributing more, L.A. has won five of its last six games and two straight. Admittedly, three of those wins were against weak teams --New Orleans, Minnesota and Detroit, but they also beat Oklahoma City (and lost to Phoenix).

The subtext of the game of course is Dwight Howard and the Dwightmare. He will finally step onto the court he said he wanted to make home before he surprised everyone by agreeing to stay in Orlando at last year's deadline. Now, back and shoulder injuries may prevent him from doing much beyond looking out at the court. He's officially day-to-day, but if he does play, his reception will be interesting. The same Nets fans who brought Dwight Big Heads to Prudential Center last season to recruit him are likely to boo him mercilessly this time.

But more than anything else, Howard will provide a benchmark for the development of Brook Lopez. Lopez has played three fewer games than Howard. He is averaging two points better (18.7 to 16.5) and almost double his output in the last 10 (19.2 to 10.9). He's still way behind in rebounding (11.9 to 7.2) but very close in blocks (2.4 to 2.2). Expect the two to battle.

The big story with L.A. of course is always Kobe. During that 5-1 stretch, he's decided to become a distributor, averaging 8.5 assists to go with his 18.5 points. He's shot a mediocre 41.6 percent over the 5-1 stretch, and a miserable 24.4 percent against Detroit and Minnesota. One place where he has really fallen off is three point shooting. Over the last six games, he is 1-of-14. Of course, he is a big game player ... and despite his distribution bias, still the league's third highest scorer at 27.7.

For the Nets, it's game three of their tough stretch. After being blown out by the Heat and barely beaten a depleted Bulls, they play five games in seven days,against the Lakers, Pistons, Wizards, Spurs and Pacers. C.J. Watson (sprained ankle) and Jerry Stackhouse (stiff neck) are game-time decisions. Andray Blatche, who is ill, was not at shootaround and is also a GTD.

Deron Williams said he and Howard don't talk much anymore. "Not really," Williams when asked about their friendship Monday. "We haven't talked as much as we had before everything went on. I don't know what the reason is."

When "everything went on" ... what a perfectly lovely way to describe the Dwightmare. And we do mean everything.