4:30 pm PST
The Los Angeles Lakers are in Brooklyn to face the Nets. The last 24 hours for the Lakers have been hectic to say the least, but most importantly for this game, the Lakers will be without both Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace.
Dwight Howard continues to miss time due to the torn labrum in his shoulder, even after receiving the PRP procedure, and doesn't want to re-injure the shoulder to restart the process, or even worse, force the issue of surgery. Before he was announced out for the game, he revealed to Stephen A. Smith that his back is only at 75%, and his legs tingle and go numb during games. Another night without Dwight, another night of starting Pau at center.
Unfortunately for the Lakers Metta World Peace received a rather late suspension in regards to his altercation with Brandon Knight in Sunday's "early" game. The league has ruled that MWP is to be suspended one game without pay after grabbing Knight and "striking" his face. This puts even more stress on the thin depth the Lakers have been working with in the absence of Jordan Hill as well.
The Lakers will need to use unorthodox lineups (not that they haven't been throughout the season) in order to patch the holes in their roster. Will Mike D'Antoni shift Kobe up and start small? Will Mr. Invisible Devin Ebanks find his number called off the bench once again? How much burn will Robert Sacre get, if any? Will Darius Morris get another crack at playing time? All these fascinating questions, and more, shall be answered in just a few short hours!
Oh, and to make matters worse, Kobe Bryant will be playing through a sprained right elbow, and has been nursing tendinitis in it. It's no surprise that Kobe will soldier on while injured, but it's worth keeping an eye on. His efficient start from the field has slowed down, but he remains effective as he facilitates the offense.
As for Brooklyn, Deron Williams is listed as probable with a sore right ankle but is expected to play. Overall, the Nets have started 2013 very strong losing only four contests. They've also undertaken a coaching change but elected to keep it in-house as PJ.. Carlesimo has taken over for the fired Avery Johnson.
Currently, the Nets are the 30th ranked team in pace and 5th ranked defense allowing 94.5 points per game (though, adjusted to their slow pace, they allow 106.2 points per 100 possessions). Brook Lopez leads the team in points per game at 18.7 (52.6% fg) and 7.2 rebounds per game.
With the injuries the Lakers face, the Nets will have a bevy of big men to pit against Pau Gasol, Robert Sacre, and... Earl Clark. Brook Lopez, Kris Humphries, Andray Blatche, and Reggie Evans give the Nets plenty of size to use against the diminished Lakers front court, while Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace spread the Lakers even thinner on the wings. This isn't an ideal night for the Lakers to be playing without both Howard and World Peace, though with their 22-26 record there's very little room for nights without starters regardless.
The Lakers remain 3.5 games out of the playoffs (Houston), with Portland also standing between them and a playoff berth. The seven game road trip hits game four, and thus far the Lakers are 2-1 and they have won 5 of their last 6 contests. Boston, Charlotte, and Miami remain before the Lakers return to Staples to play Phoenix on February 12th.
No Dwight, no Metta, banged up Kobe. Bring on the Nets!
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