The Los Angeles Lakers are back below .500, and once again health is to blame.
Dwight Howard, the team’s superstar center, is clearly not himself and could possibly sit out Sunday’s contest against the Denver Nuggets with a sprained shoulder (according to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News.)
It was evident that Howard wasn’t right when the Lake Show faltered against their in-town rivals, the Clippers, on Friday night.
The big man slapped together a decent stat line (21 PTS, 15 REB, 2 BLK), but struggled defensively and was hardly jumping for rebounds near the end of the contest.
When discussing the loss, DH12 didn’t bring up his injury but rather the issue of team chemistry. According to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles, he had this to say:
We have to play like we like each other. Even if we don't want to be friends off the court, whatever that may be, when we step in between the lines or we step in the locker room or the gym, we have to respect each other and what we bring to the table.
Regardless of whether the Lakers stars are all best friends or mortal enemies, they aren’t going to win games with a hobbled Howard out on the floor. If the center isn’t feeling right and it’s impacting his ability to play his best, he needs to prioritize some time to rehabilitate.
There’s no reason to have an ineffective superstar in the lineup, especially with a team as talented as the Lakers. If coach Mike D’Antoni has to slot Jordan Hill in at the 5 for a few January contests, so be it.
When it comes to a squad like L.A., all that matters is having a complete and healthy roster in place by the time the postseason comes around.
Considering the Lakers are losing games with Howard logging significant—and inefficient—minutes, the coaching staff might as well rest the big in order to freshen him up for a springtime run.
Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol could shoulder the load while Howard rests, but it seems D’Antoni is reluctant to let this happen.
It’ll be interesting to see how things go over these next few games and how injured Howard really is by his status in Sunday night’s game against the Nuggets.
Keep it tuned here on B/R for the latest on Dwight Howard’s status, plus Los Angeles Lakers news, rumors, updates, opinions, analysis and more.