Lakers Reeling; Pau Out for 4-6 WeeksBy Lucas M.
The Lakers received bad news two days ago: Pau Gasol, the perennially perturbed power forward who was just beginning to round into form this season, is out four to six weeks with a foot injury. It occurred in the Lakers’ surprisingly dominant 92-83 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in the Barclays Center, a game in which they were 2.5-point underdogs. However, the victory was marred by the loss of Gasol.
“I tweaked my fascia in the first half, so I was dealing with quite a bit of soreness in the second half,” Gasol said after the game. “So I couldn’t do certain things. I was dealing with it, but that play when I tried to jump off of it and try go block the shot, just as I took off, I felt a pop in the bottom of my foot on my fascia and I couldn’t get up. I’m worried about it.”
With Kobe Bryant playing the role of team facilitator and getting all of the primary ball handlers involved in the offense, the Lakers had seemingly turned a corner in their season. Steve Nash, still recovering from a knee injury of his own that occurred at the beginning of the season, was playing more aggressively, turning into the spot-up shooter the Lakers desperately need, and Pau Gasol was beginning to look like his old 20-10 self. However, just about everyone on the team is unsure of its future – even the head coach.
“We’ll see what happens,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said on Wednesday. “Hopefully, Dwight will be back fairly soon, but you approach it like any other game. Guys got to step up. We’ll play with Robert Sacre. We’ll play smaller most of the time. We’ll have Metta (World Peace) back [from a one-game suspension]. So, we still have enough pieces to win games. That’s what we have to do. We just got to keep winning and give us a chance to get into the playoffs, then hopefully, we’ll have everybody healthy at that point. But all these games are going to be attacked like they’re playoff games and whoever is available is going to have to play well.”
The Lakers have undoubtedly been racked by injuries this season. Nash got hurt right off the bat, Jordan Hill is out for the season, Steve Blake has been out for several months, and now Pau’s recent injury. Of course, the granddaddy of them all is Dwight Howard’s reaggravated shoulder. However, the Lakers know that they’ve dug themselves far too deep of a hole to make it to the playoffs without their key contributors. However, Kobe has also recently called Howard’s commitment to winning into question, so even if Howard returns at something close to 100 percent, it has yet to be determined if he’ll have the kind of mental dedication his teammates are looking for.
“We don’t have time for [Howard’s shoulder] to heal,” Kobe said in an interview with ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan on Wednesday. “We need some urgency. [Dwight] has never been in a position where someone is driving him as hard as I am, as hard as this organization is. It’s win a championship or everything is a complete failure. That’s just how we [the Lakers] do it. And that’s foreign to him. When you think about it, there aren’t many organizations that look at it that way. There are only two that can really honestly say that’s what they live by: Los Angeles and Boston.”
The Lakers are 16-1 odds to win the NBA title right now, and for all of the reassuring soundbites from Kobe, they’re in danger of not even making the playoffs.