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  • Earl Clark will start tonight when the Lakers host the Suns at Staples Center. Clark missed the morning shootaround while undergoing an MRI on his sore right foot. The results came back negative, which is great news for the Lakers, who begin tonight’s game 3 1/2 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Clark has been “the brightest spot we’ve had all year,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said before the game. He combined for just 36 minutes through the first 33 games, then was rushed into the rotation following injuries to Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill. He averaged 10.3 points and 8.4 rebounds in January and bumped those numbers up to 14 points and 9.7 rebounds this month.
  • When these teams met on Jan. 30 in Phoenix, Howard did not finish the game after he re-injured the torn labrum in his right shoulder. The Suns went on to rally from a seven-point deficit with six minutes remaining and win, 92-86. Howard missed the next three games but has played in the last three, increasing his minutes each game. He played 41 minutes Sunday in Miami, finishing with 15 points and nine rebounds in the 107-97 loss.
  • Suns reserve forward Michael Beasley played his best game of the season when these teams met last month. He scored a season-high 27 points in the win, which ruined the return of Lakers point guard Steve Nash to Phoenix. Beasley turned in another solid effort Friday night against Oklahoma City, scoring 25 points in the 127-96 loss, but came back with a four-point effort Sunday against the Thunder, this time in a 97-69 loss.

– Dan Arritt

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