Lakers Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol out indefinitely with injuries

January 7, 2013

If coach Mike D'Antoni wanted to play small ball, here's his chance.

The Los Angeles Lakers once hopeful season of promise has quickly turned from bad to worse, as big men Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, and Jordan Hill all were injured in last night’s game against the Denver Nuggets.

The most significant injury was to star center Howard, who originally injured his right shoulder Friday night against the Clippers and re-aggravated his shoulder last night. Howard was examined today and his MRI revealed that he has a torn labrum and will be out indefinitely.

Howard will travel with the team this week to Houston and San Antonio and will receive treatment from the team’s training staff.  He will then be re-examined in a week.

Meanwhile, Gasol was examined by a neurologist after suffering a nasty, bloody blow to the face in last night’s game. Tests determined that he has a concussion.  He will not travel with the team, and also will be out indefinitely.

Backup Hill suffered an injury to his right hip in last night’s game and will be examined today.  Results of the examination will be released later today.

In the short term, what this means for the Lakers is more playing time for forward Antawn Jamison and perhaps a D-League call-up for physical rookie Robert Sacre. Metta World Peace should also continue to see more time at the 4 as well.

In the long term, Howard's injury is clearly the most troubling.

Former Laker Lamar Odom played roughly a season with a torn labrum during his tenure with the team, but it has yet to be determined whether Howard's injury is similar or perhaps more severe.

Either way, it is another setback for the Lakers' center, who is still trying to regain his explosiveness and round into form following his recent back surgery.

Should Howard opt for surgery, the interior burden will rest on Pau Gasol.

Thus far, Gasol has had a miserable, unproductive season, primarily because he has been misused by two different Lakers head coaches.

A versatile big who can face up or post, Gasol's true bread-and-butter since the day he entered the league has been his back-to-the-basket game and passing ability.

Unfortunately, D'Antoni has insisted on having Gasol spot up at the three-point line in the Lakers' half court sets, even inexcusably at times when Howard has been out of the lineup and Gasol has been paired with Hill up front.

Should Howard be unable to return, Gasol will become the key to the team's destiny. Offensively, he will likely need to be involved in more screen-roll action with point guard Steve Nash. More importantly, however, he must receive the ball on the block, or at least at the high post.

By continuing to have Gasol camp out on the perimeter, the Lakers are taking away one of their best half court options.

Considering that their current sub-.500 record has them lottery-bound, the absence of yet another interior option is something this squad simply cannot afford.

By Staff of The Daily Sports Herald and news services

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