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.