Dwight Howard, Metta World Peace Out vs. Nets

Darius Soriano —  February 5, 2013

The Lakers just can’t seem to catch a break this season when it comes to players missing games. Heading into Brooklyn (still feels weird to type that) tonight against a good Nets team, the Lakers could use all the help they could get. Instead, they’ll be down two starters:

Dwight not playing is somewhat of a surprise, but not something that should be a shock. Though he’s had multiple days to rest his ailing shoulder, he’s made it clear that he wants to be close to pain free when he returns. If he’s not yet to that point, he’s not likely to suit up. You can argue whether Dwight should be playing, but only he knows what he can tolerate when on the floor and still be effective enough to help the team. If he doesn’t think he’s there, he shouldn’t. I understand that can be frustrating, but it is what it is.

But while missing Dwight could at least be somewhat foreseen, this was less so:

On the review of the play, you can easily understand the NBA’s position here. At the time, it didn’t look like too much, but the replay does show Ron extending his hand upward and connecting with Knight’s face/jaw. The fact that the suspension came down after the Lakers had already had their shootaround is unfortunate (the game plan is in place, but now must change), but that’s just how it goes.

Missing Ron will be a big deal tonight as he’s been a key defensive player all season, but especially with Dwight out. Ron has guarded all three front court positions with Dwight out and that versatility will be missed sorely. Especially when you consider the player likely to replace him is Antawn Jamison who, putting it kindly, isn’t known for his exploits on defense.

The rest of the Lakers will need to step up both in defending the paint, but in helping on the glass to try and account for missing their top two defensive players. Expect Earl Clark to play even heavier minutes and for Kobe to have to play a lot of SF with Blake and Meeks picking up  the slack at SG with Kobe sliding up. Needless to say, though, beating the Nets just got a lot harder after this news.

Darius Soriano

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