Around The World (Wide Web): Earl Clark, Pau’s Injury, Kobe-Dwight, Standings

Ryan Cole —  February 7, 2013

From Elizabeth Benson, Lakers Nation: The Lakers find themselves in a very bittersweet situation. While the team chemistry has never been higher with a 3-1 record on the Grammy road trip thus far, the thought of potentially being without two of their best big men, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill, for an extended period of time, hangs over the minds of Lakers Nation. While we wait for Gasol’s MRI results on his injured foot, the return date of Dwight Howard remains up in the air as his day-to-day status continues. Earl Clark’s emergence since the San Antonio match 15 games ago, has covered up a huge portion of the Lakers’ ailments. Kobe Bryant was asked where the Lakers would be if Clark hadn’t step up to the call, to which he replied, ”We’d be in deep crap.” In the last 15 games, Clark has posted seven double-doubles, just as many as Howard.

From Kevin Ding, OC Register:  An MRI exam Wednesday confirmed the torn plantar fascia in Pau Gasol’s right foot. In the midst of their best stretch of this difficult season with six victories in seven games, the Lakers might not get Gasol back on the court until perhaps the final games of the regular season in March or April. But the Lakers are waiting to issue a timetable until Gasol is examined by Lakers doctors Steve Lombardo and Kenneth Jung on Thursday. A reasonable estimate for recovery time in general would be six weeks. As surgery is rarely required for a torn plantar fascia, Gasol’s season is unlikely to be over. But if it turns out to be, he might have even has played his last game as a Laker considering he is a prime candidate to be traded in the offseason. Although Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni’s four-on-the-perimeter offensive system has marginalized Gasol from his usual power-forward spot to backup center behind Dwight Howard, the importance of Gasol has been heightened by Howard’s shoulder injury that has him out currently and at risk for aggravation at any time.

From Eric Pincus, LA Times: The Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers and Minnesota Timberwolves all lost on Wednesday, helping the Lakers inch closer to eighth place. Riding a three-game winning streak, the Lakers have climbed to 23-16.  They’ll play three more on the road, through Boston, Charlotte and Miami, before returning home. The schedule got significantly more complicated with Pau Gasol going down with a foot injury that will keep him out for a number of weeks.  Dwight Howard’s status (shoulder) is also up in the air. The seventh-place Utah Jazz (28-22) won on Wednesday, pulling ahead of the Lakers by 4 1/2 games.  The Jazz have the head-to-head tiebreaker and the two teams have already completed their season series. That’s a lot of ground for the Lakers to make up shorthanded, probably too much.  If the eighth seed is the best the Lakers can do, it’s still a ticket to the postseason.

From News Services, ESPN: Kobe Bryant again has urged Dwight Howard to play through some pain while claiming that theLos Angeles Lakers’ center “worries too much” about media and fan criticism. Howard has missed the past three games because of a torn labrum in his shoulder, aggravating an injury he initially suffered earlier this season. Despite winning the three games Howard has missed, the Lakers (23-26) are 10th in the Western Conference playoff race. They also will be without star forward Pau Gasol, who has a tear in the plantar fascia of his right foot, an MRI revealed Wednesday. The Lakers fear Gasol could be sidelined four to six weeks, a source told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “We don’t have time for (Howard’s shoulder) to heal,” Bryant said Wednesday in an exclusive interview with ESPNBoston.com’s Jackie MacMullan. “We need some urgency.”

From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk:  Well Dwight Howard, you wanted to be the man on a bigger stage. Welcome to all that entails. Howard has been banged up this season and while he’s been good he has not been the dominant force Lakers fans expected. And now they need him to be — the Lakers are trying to make a playoff push and a lot of that falls on the shoulders of Dwight Howard to be a leader with Pau Gasol out injured for six weeks (at least). It falls on Howard’s shoulder, the one with a torn labrum he has struggled to play through. And the bad back that hasn’t been right all season. He’s been out the last three games because of the shoulder. Kobe Bryant decided to push Howard in a very Kobe and very public way, saying the team needs him and to just suck it up. Howard didn’t like that at all, and shot back at shootaround in Boston Thursday. Howard went through shootaround but is a game-time decision tonight.

 

Ryan Cole

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20 responses to Around The World (Wide Web): Earl Clark, Pau’s Injury, Kobe-Dwight, Standings

  1. Given Kobe’s career arc, age, personality and track record of playing through injury, it is understandable that he feels this way. But Howard is eight years younger than Kobe is, about to hit FA, and not everybody has the same tolerance and compartmentilization skills that Kobe does. So, it is also understandable that Howard would tell Kobe to stick it.

    I think it is less than 50/50 that Howard stays here.

  2. @ rr–I won’t repost it all here–but Slappy’s late-in-thread post from the last subject is worth a read in light of the Kobe vs Dwight discussion.

    If Slappy is right–Dwight may be a ticking time bomb.

    I’m not medical professional, so I admit I have no clue either way.

  3. rr: agree I don’t think Dwight is freely signing up for 5 more years of this. Kobe is also making the decision easy with all the public sniping.

  4. Unless money truly does overrule all other factors, how can Howard re-sign with the Lakers? This relationship seems more and more tenuous at best. The stress will only increase as the fight for the playoffs gets harder.

  5. Personally, I am okay with Kobe calling out Dwight. Everything he says matches the perception that DH **is** overly sensitive to how he’s perceived, **is** putting himself above the team, and **is** more lamb than lion when the lights get bright.

    Honestly, I am less worried about next season since DH will want a max deal and will get it. If he’s a lamb that expects to be treated as a lion, where does that leave the Lakers next year if they do resign him?

    If, on the other hand, he steps up and shows everyone that he is the lion, then Kobe will drape him in well-earned love, DH will feel loved, and it will work itself out.

  6. I remember the 1998 lockout. Ewing, as a player rep was quoted as saying, “Sure, we make a lot of money, but we spend a lot, too”.

    Spreewell in 2004 was seeking a large deal and rationalized it with, “Gotta feed my family”.

    When Dwight makes comments that amount to the same thing, he loses me. Dwight has a career ahead of him, but his career is happening today as well. He is being paid enough, this season alone, to be taken care of for the rest of his life. Dude has made a ton of money and if he is worried that he hasen’t yet set aside enough to be cared for in his retirement years, then dude has lost perspective.

    I understand that Dwight wants to make money in the future. I would want to make money in the future as well. If he is interesting in having something more then a career, something bigger then his bank accounts, something more memorable then a boat party, then he should resign himself to the idea that this team needs him if he is at all capable. We remember Flu Games. We remember Willis Reed. We remember Kirk Gibson. We remember Kobe in Game 4 of the 2000 Finals. I think it was Zach Harper who was in the Lakers’ locker room when they were in Minny. He said when he saw Pau’s foot he almost threw up because it looks so mangled. We remember pride. We remember sacrifice.

    I think we have all scratched out heads at Dwight insisting on being a post player and not exploiting his PnR dominance (with two of the best PnR ball handlers on his team). Everyone can see that Dwight is better when he catches the ball on the move then when he catches in the post. I think this speaks to Dwight’s desire to be seen as somebody that he is not. This is a problem. I think Dwight’s attitude about this injury speaks to a lack of commitment to the team and to his legacy in the NBA. Dwight Howard has plenty of money but his career lacks depth. There is no legend. Here is an opportunity for Dwight to mark the league and if he shies away from that, I believe it speaks to something in his character that I would think twice about hitching the franchise to.

  7. mindcrime-

    Read the Slappy post, and although I didn’t mention it specifically, I did point people to the Stephen A./Howard interview in large part due to Howard ‘s comment about getting numbness in his legs after “two minutes” of “sitting in a chair.” So, yes, I think that comment is probably a big deal and like I said, I really blame neither Kobe for spouting off nor Howard for firing back. Everybody is frustrated.

    I will, say, though, that I’d find all the drama more compelling if the team were 33-16 rather than 23-26.

    And, while I am not in the “let Dwight walk” camp either, I think those that are will get their wish.

  8. It seems fairly straight-forward to me. If Dwight is at risk of worsening the injury by playing right away, and the injury will heal (at least somewhat) by resting, he should tell Kobe to stuff it. However, if this is an injury that, like Kobe’s torn ligament in his pinky or wrist (both on his shooting hand, which gets hit multiple times every game), Kobe has every right to tell Dwight that he needs to man up.

    Playing with pain isn’t fun, but neither is doing all the little stuff that it takes to become a champion. It is undeniable that Kobe knows this; with Dwight, the jury is very much out.

    If those in management feel remotely like some commenters here, trading Dwight would appear to be all the more appropriate now.

  9. Technically, Howard has been playing injured all season long. His back in not 100%. We all can see when watching him on the floor. He also came back early when he could have stayed out until January. At this point it is disingenuous to question Howard. As many ailments as Kobe has played through he’s never had a back injury as serious as Howard’s. And he has no clue how Dwight’s shoulder feels. Calling him out does nothing to help the team at this point. It only exacerbates an already bad situation.

  10. The Kobe haters just can’t manage to contain themselves. At every opportunity they have to have a snide remark that is backed up by some “talking head” comment somewhere.

    It is not that Kobe can do no wrong. It is that Kobe is a more driven human being than 99.9% of the rest of us. Those people are simply hard to live with, but they are often what make our society interesting and bring us progress.

    Hate him or love him – he is the major reason we have 5 championships over his career. No he didn’t do it alone – even Wilt couldn’t do that – but he is the major ingredient in the Laker success since 1996.

    Dwight will either adjust – and be the better for it – or he won’t – and he will probably be moderately successful somewhere else. That is the fact of the matter and arguing about how we got there is sort of stupid. The Lakers are the Kobe Lakers today and trying to make him/them something else because it pleases our ego or viewpoint is simply not looking at life the way it is.

    Crying is the way of the “talking heads” trying to get ratings – let’s not emulate that crap.

  11. Funky makes good points.

    Neil–like I said a week or so ago, there are plenty of places on the net where that type of stuff is welcomed, like ESPN boards. On a Laker site? Not so much. Criticizing Kobe is fine. Being a Hater on a Lakers site is just silly.

  12. Kobe haters everywhere,saddening and ungrateful.

  13. T Rogers’ comment was better than Neil’s, but he makes the same mistake in the sense that he makes it all about Kobe, instead of also looking at Howard’s words and actions since he got here. As was the case with Kobe/Shaq, it’s both guys, not just one.

  14. I’m not sure what else Kobe might have said, but per ESPN:

    “There’s an urgency to be out there, but it’s not at the cost of making his shoulder worse,” Bryant said after shootaround. “I’ve always said if he was healthy enough to play and there was a situation where he wasn’t going to make it any worse then he should be playing. There should be an urgency about that, but I don’t think I said anything that was different [than what I said before].”

    I really can’t understand why anyone would find fault with that type of statement. If this is the statement that caused Dwight’s reaction, then the reaction may well say more about Dwight and his future plans than anything. In the world of bright lights, big cities, and championship expectations, Kobe’s statement above should have caused nary a ripple.

  15. It seems more and more like Kobe’s of the mindset (correctly, if you ask me) that Howard isn’t the savior so many expected him to be, and the Lakers’ long-term best interests do not lie in typing up $100+ million on the guy over the next few years.

    Those who continue to defend Howard are doing so based on things he’s accomplished years ago. Aside from one game against the Bucks, he hasn’t looked anything close to dominant for any stretch of time. Nothing he’s done this season suggests he’s worth $10 million a year, let alone double that.

    Spare us the “He’s hurt” defense. What’s to suggest he’ll ever be the same guy he was at 23? Larry Johnson never came back to his pre-injury form, and that guy had a great work ethic and desire to win. Sometimes those things aren’t all it takes.

    Kobe’s a smart guy and he plays the front office when needed; maybe he’s trying to not so subtly suggest to Mitch to ship the guy out sooner than later, and each time Dwight drags his heels it only reinforces Kobe’s position all the more. Don’t discount for a second these comments could have been a strategic move by Kobe, who’s never had any tolerance for less than 100 percent committment to winning.

  16. The Laker doctors have cleared Howard to play. That’s all I need to know. He needs to play. He will eventually require surgery on his labrum whether he reaggravates it or not. Pain tolerance seems to be the main obstacle based on the quotes I’ve read.

    Both injuries occurred when he was hit across the arm on a post up shot attempt. Perhaps he could adjust his game by focusing primarily on defense. Even if he is limited, just his presence alone will be a huge boost to the defense. On offense, he will likely need to adjust by limiting his post up shots and keeping the ball up high to prevent defenses from trying to swipe at his arms. There have been plenty of players who have played through a similar injury (Lamar and Jason Smith come to mind), and with the entire season on the line, Dwight needs to man up and get on the court ASAP.

  17. RR,

    I couldn’t care less about Kobe and Dwight’s “feud.” I’m looking at the criticism of Howard for supposedly refusing to play hurt. The implication is he is not tough enough to play through injury. I just pointed out that he has played through injury since the first game of the season. A back injury is the most challenging injury for an athlete to deal with. He elected to start the season early even though he would have been completely justified in waiting until January.

    I have no interest in trying to psycho-analyze players through media quotes.

  18. I couldn’t care less about Kobe and Dwight’s “feud.”

    _

    Your post does not seem to reflect that position, and is, in fact, very focused on and critical of, both Kobe and his statement.

    Funky,

    Good point, but in the digital era, well, it is what it is.

  19. I forgot. We aren’t supposed to be critical of Kobe. Thanks for reminding me.