Undersized is undervalued? That’s what the Lakers are hoping at least moving forward. Dwight Howard continues to rest his torn labrum in his shoulder. And now late in the 4th quarter of the Lakers 92-83 victory over the Brooklyn Nets Pau Gasol left with what he described as a pop in his foot. Gasol said to the LA Times last night, “I’m worried about it. I’ve never felt anything like it.”
It’s been diagnosed now as a strain in his plantar fascia. For anyone who has ever had it, plantar fasciitis is not a fun injury by any means, but it’s not a torn ACL. If Howard can miss only a few games with a torn labrum, I’d be optimistic that Gasol could come back and play injured—if he wants to. Gasol has an excellent track record of being a resilient player, and not missing much time despite the label of being soft.
Now once you take Howard, Gasol, and Jordan Hill out of the mix cause of his injury, what remains is pretty undersized team: Nash, Kobe, Metta, Clark, Jamison, Blake, Meeks, Ebanks, Morris and then Sacre as the only true big guy. He will need to be brought into the mix because the Lakers have to. No one other than Kobe that remains demands post touches, no 7-footers clogging up the lanes—it’s just how D’Antoni likes it.
While the Lakers lack the consistent shooting from deep, this is more of the lineup that D’Antoni is used to coaching and has succeeded with. He can put the ball in Nash or Kobe’s hands, spread the floor, and have Earl Clark, or Jamison dive in for catches on the run near the baseline, while running a ball screen on the opposite. This Lakers team has never played like this, but D’Antoni has sure coached an undersized team like this. This is the scenario his coaching experience will hopefully manifest.
Playing some of the teams in the West this would be a bigger problem. After spending time guarding Monta Ellis and Rip Hamilton in previous games, Earl Clark finished Tuesday’s game at center. But in the East teams are still undersized, especially Boston and Miami whom the Lakers are set to play 2 of their next 3 games. The now undersized lineup neutralizes the Lakers biggest advantage, but it would be more problematic against other opponents that the 3 sitting on the back end of the Grammy trip.
LA Sports Hubsters, Can Mike D’Antoni get the best out of this undersized lineup?