I've written this season that this Lakers team was constructed to be injury-prone. While many felt that last year's injury woes couldn't continue, I contended that it wasn't just possible for them to go on--it was probable.
But in a 109-99 loss to the Timberwolves, the injuries rose to a point of parody. I was making a point Frank, you don't have to celebrate it.
- After just one minute of action in the first quarter, Jodie Meeks suffered an ankle sprain while attempting a jumper. He left for the locker room immediately after and did not return.
- In the second quarter, Jordan Hill was accidentally whacked in the face by teammate Chris Kaman, suffering a cervical sprain (his neck!). He was taken out of the game immediately, as is protocol for potential concussions, and did not return.
- Returning after two months from an elbow injury, Steve Blake's arm was fine. What wasn't fine was when he collided with Minnesota guard Dante Cunningham and ruptured his ear drum. He played on despite not being able to hear out of one of his ears.
- Pau Gasol missed his first game due to his groin strain in what should have been a week-long absence. However, shortly before tip-off, the Lakers announced that he'll be out at least an additional week.
- Oddly enough, the most injury-prone Laker, point guard Steve Nash, reported that his back felt "great" after the game. Huh.
Even at my most hilarious, I couldn't make this stuff up. The Lakers get two players back, lose two more within minutes of the tip and then one of said returning players bursts and ear drum in a freak accident. It's just silly.
Oh, and if you couldn't guess by now, the Lakers lost the game.
LA surrendered an astounding 68 points in the first half. Two Kevins, Love and Martin, led the way for Minnesota who both scored over 30 points on a pathetic Lakers defense. The Timberwolves cooled off significantly in the second half and lowered their overall shooting percentage to just 44%, but still absolutely crushed a foul-prone LA squad at the line. The Show sent Minny to the charity stripe a staggering 38 times, which no doubt kept them afloat as the ever-resilient Lakers (surprise, surprise) knocked the deficit down to single-digits in the fourth quarter.
Still, the problem was as it always is for LA: not enough stops when it matters, getting destroyed on the boards (-15 overall, -4 offensively) and of course, turnovers (16). As great as Pau Gasol's scoring contributions have been in January, it's clear to me that he could drop 35 per night and this team would probably still lose. They are the worst defensive team in the NBA.
As if the injury news wasn't enough, Manny Harris's second 10-day contract expired last night, which means it was likely his last day with the team. The Lakers cannot sign him to another 10-day and would instead have to sign him for the rest of the year--a problem for a team that's extremely wary of the luxury tax line. If they do not fly in another short term contract player (probably either Shawne Williams or Terrence Williams from the D-Fenders), they could run the risk of having anywhere between 7 and 9 players for tonight's back-to-back contest in Cleveland.
On the bright side, Steve Nash looked solid in just his seventh game of the season. He played a surprising 25 minutes, hitting three of six shots and dishing nine assists. Though rusty at points, it was extremely impressive how well he played considering how grave his injury situation has looked over the past few months. However, it was just one game and what's most important is how Nash feels when he wakes up today. Sigh.
Another day, another loss for the Lakers. And I'm not talking about on the basketball court.
--Follow this author @TheGreatMambino