Howard’s Shoulder Injury Plagues Laker Road Trip

By Nick T.
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Just when the Los Angeles Lakers were figuring out how to string wins together, Dwight Howard’s injury took a turn for the worse.

The 6-foot-11 big man re-aggravated his torn labrum in his right shoulder during Wednesday night’s 92-86 loss to the Phoenix Suns, putting (once again) the Lakers postseason hopes in doubt. Even if he is cleared to play soon, it could be an issue that Howard has to deal with for the rest of the season.

The loss of Howard abruptly showed how valuable he is to the Lakers defense. After leaving the game, the Lakers blew a 13-point fourth-quarter lead, which ended up snapping the team’s three-game winning streak.

“Everything on (the right) side (of my body) is hurting pretty bad rightnow,” Howard said after the game on Wednesday. “I’m going to try as much as I can but I don’t want to cause more damage to my shoulder.

Howard’s injury comes at a bad time. The Lakers just played their first of a seven-game road trip that features stops at Minnesota, Brooklyn, Boston and Miami. Three of the four teams have a better record than the Lakers and all are still in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt. The road trip will extend through mid-February.

Howard has been one of the few bright spots in the Lakers lineup this season. The eight-year pro is averaging 16.5 points, 11.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per contest while producing a 19.76 PER. Though, it does need to be said that he’s averaging the worst numbers since his rookie campaign in 2005-06. What’s also of worry is that in the last 10 games, Howard has struggled from the floor, scoring just a shade under 14 ppg.

He will have his right shoulder re-evaluated on Thursday and a determination of whether will be made on whether he can play the remaining road trip.

The loss of Howard will undoubtedly open up the Timberwolves matchup on Friday night. While the betting line is not available currently, we can assume that Howard’s absence will quickly derail their rebounding production and scoring in the paint.