Around The World (Wide Web): A Peace Punch, Earl Clark, Dwight, Lakers

Ryan Cole —  February 4, 2013

From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: That free agent in the Lakers’ front-court stands to make a lot of money this summer. Sure, Dwight Howard will get paid too, but Earl Clark has gone from a career washout to a gradual climber up the NBA’s free-agent list in July. “Obviously, not playing earlier and averaging those [low] numbers, I didn’t know where I would end up,” Clark said. “Playing good now and with other teams wanting you, you can pick your own destiny. It feels good to be in the driver’s seat.” He’s quick to add that his first choice is the Lakers, who can sign the unrestricted free agent even though they are already well over the salary cap next season. “This is my first team that gave me an opportunity. I love the guys here,” Clark said. “The organization and the style of play fits me. I really want to stay here.” Clark, 25, has been the feel-good story in an otherwise grim Lakers season.

From Ben R, Silver Screen & Roll:  On paper, this was a matchup that seemed to be firmly in the Lakers’ favor. Detroit was not yet able to employ the services of Jose Calderon, who had eviscerated the Lakers earlier this year, due to visa issues and the Pistons’ best front-court in Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe was finally one against which the Lakers could employ their Twin Towers without losing too much versatility on either end. The Lakers could limit Detroit’s offense into difficult Monroe post-ups and use Dwight Howard’s presence to quench the penetration from Detroit’s wings. Or that was the plan at any rate considering that little has gone as predicted for the Lakers this season, as without Howard, the Lakers were faced with a rare size deficit in the interior and it showed repeatably as the Pistons took ownership of the paint. So even though we expect this team as part of its recent turnaround to be capable of beating teams like this on the road decisively, the Lakers are neither deep enough nor sufficiently in tune with their system to be capable of doing so. And right now, that’s okay.

From Dave McMenamin, ESPN LA:  Metta World Peace was hit with a flagrant foul 1 in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 98-97 win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday for getting tangled up with Pistons guardBrandon Knight, and Knight doesn’t believe that punishment was severe enough because he was hit with a fist. “The play needs to be reviewed because he definitely threw a punch,” Knight told reporters after the game. “It felt like he threw a punch. That’s why I reacted the way I did. “The play was over and he grabbed me around the neck. If someone grabs you around the neck, you’re not just going to let that happen. You do what you need to get that person off you.” World Peace and Knight tussled under the hoop with 1:43 remaining in the second quarter while going for the rebound after Greg Monroe was called for a shooting foul on a shot attempt by Pau Gasol. Play was stopped and an official timeout was signaled so the referees could assess the situation.”He’s a small guy,” World Peace said after finishing with eight points and nine rebounds in the win. ”

From Elizabeth Benson, Lakers Nation:  Have your hearts recovered from the Lakers’ head-scratching win against the Detroit Pistons on Super Bowl Sunday? While the Lakers continue to find ways to blow leads in the fourth quarter, the fact remains that they left the Motor City with a win. After all, that is where the team stands at this point of the season; leave the game with a W no matter how beautiful or downright ugly the game is. What has been extremely apparent over the last three games is how crucial Dwight Howard’s presence on the court actually is. Of course, any casual fan will agree with this statement solely based on Howard’s resume. However, when it come to closing in on what and where he is most effective, these past three games would have definitely played out differently. Why? It comes down to defense.

From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Dwight Howard rested, but many other Lakers used their Sunday to put in some serious work. It was barely enough for the Lakers to avoid another devastating setback and edge the lowly Detroit Pistons, 98-97.  Pau Gasol, even though Howard mocked his lack of lift on an earlier dunk, got up just high enough to distract Detroit’s Andre Drummond on a last-second alley-oop chance for Detroit — and led the Lakers with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Metta World Peace wasn’t afraid to assert himself physically even in the house where he endured his most infamous moment going into the stands to fight in 2004 — bringing the energy on a day when relieved Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said after surviving: “These are playoff games for us.”



Ryan Cole