Lakers vs. Nets: Biggest Matchup Problems for LA

Morgan ChalfantContributor IIIFebruary 5, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 27:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers is fouled by Serge Ibaka #9 of the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center on January 27, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers have some weapons in their starting lineup, but they will face difficulty tonight against Brooklyn as long as Dwight Howard remains benched with a torn labrum.

Howard aggravated his shoulder on Wednesday in Phoenix, and as a result did not play Sunday against Detroit.

On Sunday, the center told the Orange County Register, “I’m not going to try to rush myself back and have the possibility of hurting it again. There’s no need for that.” As it seems, Howard will sit out tonight, leaving the low post to veteran Pau Gasol and bench players Antawn Jamison and Robert Sacre.

Though Gasol played well against Detroit after returning from his concussion, the fact remains that the forward-center is old and needs to watch his minutes. Gasol has 11 years in the NBA under his belt, and at age 32, he certainly won’t be able to take on the Nets’ Brook Lopez and Reggie Evans single-handedly.

What’s more, Gasol injured his right foot during the Lakers’ loss at Phoenix on Wednesday, an injury that may return to haunt him in coming games despite his ability to play on Sunday. Undoubtedly, Gasol will have to spend some time resting on the bench tonight.

That leaves Antawn Jamison to take over the position of power forward. With 14 years in the league, Jamison probably gets winded as easily as Gasol. Though he has a decent 8.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in 20.0 minutes per game for the Lakers’ 2012-13 season, Jamison does not fair so well against New Jersey. When playing the Nets, Jamison has no steals, no blocks, and only 2.0 points in 9.0 minutes of game play.

His statistics pale in comparison to those of Nets power forward Reggie Evans. Evans averages 8.8 rebounds and a field-goal percentage of .495 in 22.1 minutes per game this season. Against the Lakers, Evans averages an impressive 11.0 rebounds in 19.0 minutes of game play.

And then, there’s Robert Sacre, who plays center for the Lakers. The 23-year-old bench player does not have much experience, averaging only 1.3 rebounds, 0 steals and 1.5 points in 7.9 minutes per game this season. With such mediocre statistics and inexperience, Sacre will undoubtedly be dominated by Nets center Brook Lopez.

Lopez is still young, with only four years in the league, and he averages 7.2 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 18.7 points in 29.4 minutes of game play for the 2012-13 season. Against the Lakers, Lopez has 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 23.0 points in 37.0 minutes.

Though Gasol will push his minutes tonight, Sacre will probably have to step in at some point, which means things may get ugly. The Nets clearly have the Lakers beat on the low post if Dwight Howard doesn’t play at Brooklyn tonight.