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- History is expected to be made tonight when the Lakers host the Nets at Staples Center. Brooklyn forward Jason Collins, signed to a 10-day contract earlier in the day, is expected to make his season debut against L.A., making him the first openly gay athlete to play in one of North American’s four major sports. Nets coach Jason Kidd told reporters before the game that he expects Collins to play in a backup role as Brooklyn will be thin up front with veteran Kevin Garnett sitting out after playing in Saturday night’s loss at Golden State and Reggie Evans traded earlier this week to the Sacramento Kings. “It’s not about history or anything like that. It’s about going out there and make things difficult for the Lakers,” Collins said in a meeting with reporters about an hour before the game.
- The Nets will also be without starting guard Shaun Livingston (bruised tailbone) and backup guard Marcus Thornton (food poisoning). Livingston, who is averaging 7.7 points, left in the first quarter of Saturday’s loss after taking a hard fall on a foul by Harrison Barnes while going for a layup, though X-rays came back negative. Thornton, who is averaging 8.3 points and came over in the trade that sent Evans to Sacramento, will miss his third straight game with the illness. Mason Plumlee will move into the starting lineup in Garnett’s spot and Andrei Kirilenko will take Livington’s spot in the backcourt.
- The Lakers continue to get players trickling back into the lineup. Nick Young, the team’s second-leading scorer at 16.9 points, is set to return against the Nets after missing the last six games with a non-displaced fracture of the patella and a bone bruise in his left knee. Young will come off the bench as coach Mike D’Antoni is going with a starting lineup of Pau Gasol, Wes Johnson, Kendall Marshall, Jodie Meeks and Kent Bazemore, who was acquired at this week’s trade deadline and scored a career-high 15 points in his debut Friday against the Celtics. Gasol returned from a seven-game absence due to a groin injury and contributed 16 points in the victory, which snapped a franchise-record eight-game home-losing streak.