The Los Angeles Lakers, already struggling, will have to go on the road without three significant big men because of injuries: Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill.
Howard has a torn labrum in his right shoulder, and is expected to miss at least a week of action before his injury is re-evaluated. He injured his shoulder in Friday’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers and aggravated it in Sunday’s defeat to the Denver Nuggets.
“It shouldn’t keep me out for awhile, but to make sure that I’m cautious, to make sure that I’m healthy, that’s the most important thing,” Howard told reporters at the Lakers practice facility on Monday.
The most encouraging the news about Howard’s injury is that he will not need surgery.
”I was in pain (Sunday night), and the biggest thing right now is I have to make sure I’m 100 percent,” the six-time All-Star said. “I don’t want to play with my shoulder weak. I’d have a chance for more injuries. I’ve got to let it heal up.”
In the meantime, Gasol will be out after sustaining a concussion in Sunday night’s loss to the Nuggets, when he was hit in the face with an elbow from Denver center JaVale McGee.
Hill, a key reserve forward, has a right hip injury that he suffered during Sunday’s game as well. An MRI revealed a small tear of the labrum in his left hip, according to ESPNLA.com. He will also be re-evaluated in a week.
The Lakers, who are 15-18 and sit in 11th place in the Western Conference, hardly could afford such a rash of injuries to key personnel.
“When it rains, it pours, man,” star guard Kobe Bryant said. “It’s like the old Mr. Magoo thing. You just try to get through it.”
Los Angeles coach Mike D’Antoni added: “The NBA is unforgiving, and nobody is feeling sorry for us. There’s 29 other teams that are happy, and we’ve got to do the best we can do.”
D’Antoni said he will have to resort to a smaller line-up until the team gets healthy again. Darius Morris, Antawn Jamison, Earl Clark and Devin Ebanks – bench players who had not made a significant contribution this season – will receive more playing time. The Lakers will also call up rookie center Robert Sacre from their D-League affiliate, the Los Angeles D-Fenders.
“Guys have to step up, and I made sure everybody knew because we want to make sure everybody is in the right frame of mind (Tuesday), whether it being playing a different position or playing a little bit differently than they normally have,” D’Antoni said.
D’Antoni also said small forward Metta World Peace might play both forward positions and center until the big men return.
“If you feel sorry for yourself, if you complain, if you make excuses, that’s when frankly I think you delay the turnaround or prohibit the turnaround,” point guard Steve Nash said.
The Lakers, who have lost their three games, play their first game without the trio of big men Tuesday night at the Houston Rockets. They will end their short road trip at the San Antonio Spurs Wednesday night and return to home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night — a tough stretch when healthy, and a much tougher one missing three key components.