Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns
- The Lakers have taken seven of the last 10 overall games in this series, including a 114-102 victory at Staples Center on November 16. However, the Suns have won their last two home games against the Lakers.
- The Lakers have won their last three games after dropping their previous four. Wednesday's contest against the Suns marks their first game of a season-long seven-game road trip; Los Angeles has lost its last seven road games, four of them by double digits.
- Phoenix has been held below 100 points in 12 of its 13 games so far this month, averaging 91.3 points per game (3rd fewest in NBA).
- This will be Steve Nash's first appearance against his old team since coming to the Lakers in the offseason. He missed the November 16 meeting between the teams with a leg injury. Nash is the Suns' all-time career leader in assists (6997), three-point field goals (1051), three-point attempts (2417), three-point percentage (.435; minimum 250 3PM) and free-throw percentage (.907; minimum 1200 FTM).
- Kobe Bryant has had three straight games with at least 11 assists, tying the longest such streak of his career. In his first 42 games of the season, he had just one with 11 or more assists.
- P.J. Tucker has 11 and 12 points, respectively, in his last two games. He has never scored in double digits in three straight contests in his career.
By ALAN FERGUSON
(AP) -- 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.
Updated January 30, 2013