Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol out
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- If the Los Angeles Lakers are going to crawl out of the hole they've dug for themselves with their current three-game losing streak, they'll have to do it without their All-Star big men -- center Dwight Howard and forward Pau Gasol -- who are both out indefinitely with injuries, the team announced Monday.
Howard is sidelined with a torn labrum in his right shoulder while Gasol has a concussion.
"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 after undergoing an MRI that revealed the tear earlier on Monday.
Two Lakers sources told ESPN on Monday that they are cautiously optimistic Howard's injury isn't that severe and will heal within a week or two. Holding him out in the short term is "more precautionary," one source said.
Howard was injured in the second half of the Lakers' 107-102 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday when he got his arms tangled up with Caron Butler. He played through the injury in Sunday's 112-105 loss to the Denver Nuggets and tied a career high with 26 rebounds and added 14 points and four blocks in 41 minutes of playing time despite the pain. But he had his shoulder wrapped heavily in ice after the game.
"That was a pretty good effort," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said of Howard on Monday. "I told him he'd have about 40 (rebounds) if he had both arms."
Howard will be re-examined in a week, according to the team, but will accompany the Lakers on their two-game road trip against the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday and Wednesday in order to receive treatment from the team's training staff.
"It depends on how fast it will heal up," Howard said when asked if he believed he could return after one week.
The Lakers originally listed Steve Nash out for at least one week when he suffered a fractured fibula in his left leg, yet the point guard ended up missing close to seven weeks of game action.
The 27-year-old Howard, who said he has never experienced this type of shoulder injury before, was adamant that he would not require surgery to repair it.
"No surgery," Howard said. "No surgery. It's something that takes a little time to heal. ... I don't need surgery. At all."
Howard said he would ensure he was fully healed before attempting a comeback, however.
"The biggest thing right now is I have to make sure that I'm 100 percent," Howard said. "I don't want to play with my shoulder weak and have a chance for more injuries, so I got to let it heal up."
Gasol was concussed when he took a blow to the face from Denver's JaVale McGee in the fourth quarter on Sunday. He will not travel with the team.
The Lakers will also be without back-up big man Jordan Hill on the road trip after he suffered a hip injury on Sunday. He was examined by Lakers' physician Dr. Steve Lombardo and had an MRI which revealed a small tear of the labrum in his left hip. He will be treated conservatively, and will be re-evaluated in a week.
"When it rains, it pours man," said Kobe Bryant. "It's like the old Mr. Magoo thing. You just try to get through it."
D'Antoni said that rookie center Robert Sacre would be called up from the Los Angeles D-Fenders, the Lakers' D-League affiliate, and likely start in the middle. Second-year guard Darius Morris could also be used more, along with forwards Antawn Jamison, Earl Clark and Devin Ebanks.
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While D'Antoni was being somewhat facetious, the prospect of replacing Howard, Gasol and Hill's combined 36.2 points and 26.5 rebounds per game in the lineup is no laughing matter for the 15-18 Lakers.
"You just feel like at some point you hit rock bottom and then it's time when the only place you can go is up," Bryant said.
In wake of the injury news, the Lakers canceled practice Monday and instead kept to a brief film session when D'Antoni addressed the team before taking their flight to Houston.
"We already talked about it and what we have to do," D'Antoni said. "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 that Metta World Peace would have to be prepared to play both forward positions and even spend some time at center while the Lakers are waiting for their trio of big men to return.
"No one is going to feel sorry for us," said Nash. "We have to take the challenge, embrace it. No matter how many lumps we take, we can't give up. You can't feel sorry for yourself, you got to keep battling and if you keep battling you give yourself a chance for good things to happen. But 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."
Added Bryant: "We pull our boots up, we get to work. You tighten the belt. You don't worry about making excuses or complaining about, 'Poor us,' and that type of stuff. You go out there and you do your job."
Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne was used in this report.