Steve Nash said Kobe was “brilliant” when describing the dunk. Kobe, meanwhile, is “very, very concerned” about Pau’s foot injury. Such is the up and down nature of the Lakers’ season to this point. The breaks the team catches have mostly been bad ones this year, especially on the injury front. Describing the season to this point as a roller coaster doesn’t do it justice.
Through it all, however, the team has battled. And maybe that is the bigger theme to this season to this date. The weight of expectations can be crushing. This team had ideas about what they could achieve heaped on them very early in the process. They have not come close to reaching those heights yet, but have preached about the process and the unyielding pursuit to still get to the finish line. Along the way there have been setbacks, but also been surprises. This is why we say to enjoy the journey. Things won’t always be easy, but they’re sure to keep you captivated. Kind of like that Kobe dunk.
On to the stories of the day…
- Mike D’Antoni wants him to play. It’s been hinted at by his teammates that they want him to play. Fans definitely want him to play. But Dwight Howard is sitting with his bum shoulder. He won’t rush back, either, says Mark Medina. Not to play in pain or be less effective than he knows he can be. This may be hard for some to understand, but as Dwight has said, he’s the one out there playing. We, the fans, are not. I understand this perspective, even if it’s frustrating.
- Dwight, of course, wasn’t alone in missing last night’s contest. Ron sat at the team hotel, watching on a TV, as his suspension didn’t allow him to even be in the arena. This is Ron’s 11th suspension in 10 seasons and, at this point, one can only assume his past transgressions plays a role in all decisions by the league to sit him down.
- With Dwight and Ron out, someone needed to step up. The main player to do so was Earl Clark, playing 40 minutes and providing a double-double in the process. In talking about Clark’s emergence, Kobe says the Lakers would “be in deep crap” without the versatile forward. Dave McMenamin has the details.
- Moving on to game stories, Brett Pollakoff of Pro Basketball Talk has a recap from the game discussing all the details, including how that Blake, Duhon, Meeks, Clark, and Sacre lineup built up the lead in the 2nd quarter.
- Drew Garrison of Silver Screen & Roll also has a game story with several key numbers, including how the Lakers got outworked on the glass but still found a way to get the W.
- For the Nets’ perspective, Devin Kharpertian of The Brooklyn Game discusses Brooklyn’s defensive miscues late in the game — including a breakdown of the play that led to Earl Clark’s big jumper — that enabled the Lakers’ closing 10-0 run that clinched the game.
The focus now shifts from last night to all the nights that will follow, starting on Thursday against the hated Celtics. While that matchup marinates on the mind, however, our focus is also on Pau Gasol. An MRI awaits him in Boston and there are fears of the worst. Words like “pop” and “tear” are never good and the prospect of missing the Spaniard for any stretch, especially when he was starting to figure things out, is a cruel blow for a team that’s seemingly suffered more than their fair share up to this point in the season. All we can do is wait. Hopefully the news is good. But if it’s not, I can at least trust that this team will battle and scrap to try and preserve their goals. They’ve at least proven that much this season, even if the results haven’t been what we’ve wanted.
Funky Chicken says
Impressive win under the circumstances, but boy can you see the difference between the two conferences. New Jersey, a team the Lakers have now beaten twice (and once with two starters missing and a third gone for the game-deciding final 4 minutes) is in a virtual tie for the 3rd seed in the east. Whoever emerges from the Western Conference will be FAR more battle tested than Miami….
If I were a free agent to be, and I wasn’t the most competitive and driven guy around, I might prefer playing in the other conference next year instead of battling against the crazy-deep WC teams during the regular season & playoffs. Speaking of Dwight, if he sits out tomorrow and the Lakers lose, I would expect some serious anger from Kobe. We are the Lakers, and they are the hated Celtics. We need this game desperately, and with Pau’s likely absence we need Howard to step up.
If Dwight’s injury could be exacerbated, I would expect the team not to clear him for play, but so far the reporting seems to indicate that not playing is Dwight’s choice–meaning he just doesn’t want the pain. I haven’t seen any indication that this injury will heal during the season, or that by sitting out he reduces the odds of another flare up. This, like Kobe’s finger, wrist, etc, is something that Howard will have to contend with until the offseason.
Refusing to play against the hated rival when your team has no frontcourt depth and a desperate need for a win (for momentum, morale, playoff hopes, and because it’s THE CELTICS), well that would just about be the final straw for me in terms of Howard. If you want to be a Laker, this is not a game you miss unless you are injured so severely that you are not cleared by the doctor.
Yes, Kobe has played with injuries throughout his career, but that doesn’t mean he’s played well. As a matter of fact, Kobe has sucked when he’s played injured. Other than 6 fouls, Dwight would be no help if he plays injured.
Darius Soriano says
“Kobe has sucked when he’s played injured.”
This is hyperbole at its finest. Kobe’s had some tremendous stretches of basketball when he’s played hurt. Last year when he played through his wrist injury, he was fantastic (25 points per game on 46% shooting, 7 rebounds, & 6 assists in December, 31 points per game on 46% shooting, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in January). He also had some very good games when he tore the ligament in his index finger on his shooting hand a few seasons ago.
Has he always played great? Of course not. But to say “he’s sucked” is a nice way of making an argument while providing little background as to why it would be true. Basically, it’s making a statement just to make it to try and make a point about Howard.
Pain is a very subjective experience. This trend of calling out Dwight is a bit unfair since no one other than Dwight knows what he is feeling and his level of comfort. The same people start with the same line about Pau Gasol whenever he struggles through injury. If they are unable to play well through pain, that is their reality; Dwight is no Bryant or Reed.
Think migraine: some people are able to focus despite the pain and perform; but when I have one, I find it very difficult to work, even for things I care deeply about. ‘Heart’ isn’t always the name of the game. Some people have exceptional abilities, others are just normal, not ‘weak’ or ‘lacking mental toughness’. Armchair critics are very brave when it’s not their neck on the line.
Craig W. says
I am just so frustrated with the “talking heads.” All reporters and fans love Kobe interviews because he is an intelligent subject, who warms to his game and how it is played. Last night he talked about why Dwight might be pretty hesitant to play with his shoulder injury, even if it might not need surgery immediately. I came away from the interview knowing a bit more about athletes and injuries, but having no particularly bad feelings about Dwight. This morning the dumb “talking heads” couldn’t talk about anything but how Kobe had thrown Dwight ‘under the bus’ by saying he wouldn’t play through injury.
I guess you could have taken the interview that way; if you were looking for an angle and wanted to be as sensationalist as possible. What I take away from the journalists and “talking heads” is that I shouldn’t believe what they say and to always examine several sources. While it is good to always have several sources, it is disappointing that our default position in listening to media types is not to believe what they are saying.
CraigW: guess your listening to 710 too.
Darius Soriano says
You can continue to talk the stories of the day in this thread, but we do have a new post up.
Funky Chicken says
Manny, aside from saying that you’re just plain wrong, I’ll defer to Darius’ reply to you.
Kareeme, criticizing a player for not playing well when injured is wrong; criticizing a player for not plalying because they might get hit and endure pain, that’s something else. When you supposedly a franchise player in the NBA, paid $20 million per year, and claim to be a guy capable of leading a team to a title, a “normal” pain threshold isn’t going to cut it.
Chris J says
I hate myself for saying this, but Stephen A. Smith’s column on Howard sums up the Lakers’ situation with Howard perfectly. If there’s a good deal to me made, make it. Please.
That is not the guy around which to build a championship franchise in Los Angeles, alongside Kobe for another year or two. My low opinion of Howard is well-documented, but I am being reasonably here. The guy’s given no indication he intends to stay, and is now blatantly stating he’s in “Me first” mode after trying to hide that fact while wrecking the Magic. Injury or not, he’s hardly lived up anyone’s expectations in L.A., and more than anything else, watching him play is just a God-awful drain. The missed free throws, fumbled passes… terrible to observe.
Most damning of all — the season’s halfway over, the Lakers are out of the playoffs at present, and the best stretch they’ve had all season has come when Pau got minutes at the 5. Tying up $100 million on Howard will destroy this team over the next few years. Move on.
Funky – With all due respect, pain is something that cannot be objectively measured so it is pointless to argue that X player should “play through the pain.” Neither you, nor I , can tell if Dwight is being a big baby or is being honest.
NOTE: This is MannyP, not the “other” Manny – who seems to be anything but a Laker fan.
Kenny T says
Thanks for your response to Manny re Kobe’s injuries. Saved some of us the trouble.
Regarding Dwight: I respect his judgement with regards to his health and this current injury. I won’t cast aspersions on his toughness without proof. Only he knows how much pain he can tolerate.
McMenamin’s article about Earl Clark is good. If Earl Clark continues to work hard on his game, I can see him being a better (more valuable) player for the Lakers than Howard in the future. I’m already anxious to see how he will look after the summer.
how many years do we have e clark?
i wonder how many rings kobe could have accumulated by now if he played this way his entire career…couple more with shaq? thats why its so frustrating when he would get criticized by fans for shooting too much and the go to retort was “its won 5 rings so obviously he knows what hes doing”….look at this efficiency….would it have worked in years past? who knows but i think so
Warren Wee Lim says
BAtman – none. He will be a restricted free agent this summer whom we control the bird rights for. My best guess, and its a total guesstimate, EC gets 16M/4. 3.5M starting.