Dwight Howard won't play tonight. He's flying back to Los Angeles to receive platelet-rich plasma therapy on the shoulder he reinjured in Phoenix and is considered day-to-day, meaning he's questionable for Sunday's game in Brooklyn. At least the Pau-coming-off-the-bench crisis is over.
Tonight's game is as close to a must-win as it gets for early February. I estimate the Lakers need to go 23-13 over their final 36 games to have a reasonable (i.e. better than 50% chance of reaching the playoffs). They still have to play Miami, the Clippers (twice), Brooklyn, Atlanta (twice), Denver, Oklahoma City, Chicago, San Antonio, Indiana and Golden State. They have to sweep nearly all their remaining games against bad teams because they're not about to start winning 80% of the time against good teams. That's why the loss in Phoenix was such a killer. They have precious few mulligans left, and they burned one in a game against a horrible opponent.