Lakers depleted again for Game 4
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- If the Los Angeles Lakers are going to take the first step toward becoming the first team in NBA history to win a series after falling down 0-3, they'll have to do it with Darius Morris, Andrew Goudelock and Earl Clark in their starting lineup.
Steve Nash (hamstring), Jodie Meeks (ankle) and Steve Blake (hamstring) all will miss their second consecutive games in the Lakers' first-round series against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday. Metta World Peace (knee) also has been ruled out.
I appreciate everyone supporting my efforts on trying to finish the season on top and contribute to the team. I guess I have to finish the season on top in a different way. I won't be able to play Sunday, but it's OK. We're going to come out with the victory and then we'll move on from there. Hopefully I can get back when we get to San Antonio.” -- Metta World Peace via Twitter
"He wanted to give it a go, but he was just dragging his leg and we didn't feel like he could go," coach Mike D'Antoni said of World Peace, who was scoreless in 17 first-half minutes in the Lakers' 120-89 loss in Game 3 on Friday.
"I appreciate everyone supporting my efforts on trying to finish the season on top and contribute to the team," World Peace said in a video he posted to his Twitter account Saturday. "I guess I have to finish the season on top in a different way. I won't be able to play Sunday, but it's OK. We're going to come out with the victory and then we'll move on from there. Hopefully, I can get back when we get to San Antonio."
That would be Game 5 on Tuesday, if the series goes that far. If it doesn't, an interesting offseason will begin.
Dwight Howard is set to become a free agent on July 1, and has yet to inform the Lakers whether he intends to re-sign or not.
"I haven't thought about it," Howard said after practice Saturday. "We haven't talked about it."
D'Antoni, given a public vote of support by Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak prior to L.A.'s final game of the regular season against the Houston Rockets, also sidestepped a question about what the offseason could bring.
"We're worried about Sunday's game is all we're doing," D'Antoni said. "We're going to try to play well Sunday and try to get a win, sneak a win in there."
The Spurs have won the first three games of the series by an average of 18 points, and there's no denying the impact that injuries have had on the Lakers.
"It's been really difficult," Pau Gasol said. "It's hard to play at this level of playoff basketball without your roster healthy. Not just 1-2-3-4 (players), this is five key players in our rotation and our game that are not out there with us. It's been one thing after another. It's been a rough path."
Gasol is averaging 13.3 points, 12.7 rebounds and 6.7 assists in the series, but said he isn't healthy, either.
"My foot is still bothering me," said Gasol, who missed a significant portion of the season with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot. "I knew that was going to happen. I'm taking care of it every day, but it's still limiting.
"My knees are being an issue, also. My patellar tendons are suffering. It's something that once the season is over, I'll have to take care of and do something about because it has been limiting. But at the same time, I've still been performing pretty well and I want to continue to fight, continue to leave it all out there on the floor and do what I have to do."
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Gasol said his left knee is hurting more than his right, but that both will require attention this summer.
"We'll see what kind of treatments, injections (are available)," Gasol said. "It's more than tendinitis, it's tendinosis. There's a degeneration of the tissue, and it's something that I've dealt with all year. So I'll have to do something to regenerate the tissue so I don't have to play with this pain."
Gasol said he could follow Kobe Bryant's example and fly to Germany for Regenokine therapy.
"Wherever I have to go, I'll go," Gasol said. "It's a possibility."
The four-time All-Star, who will turn 33 in July, said he is looking into non-invasive procedures rather than surgery.
"Find ways to regenerate the tendon tissue so I can get rid of all the dead tissue and inflammation that is there right now. I have also calcification on my insertion of my patellar (tendon)," Gasol said. "So, it's been difficult, but nothing has been easy this year, so I wouldn't expect any less."
Gasol did not have as clear a picture of what would be happening to his and his teammates' status with the Lakers this summer. Gasol, World Peace, Blake and Bryant are all eligible to be released from the team via the NBA's amnesty provision. And Gasol knows better than most that trades are always a possibility, after a deal to send him to Houston in a three-way deal that would have landed the Lakers Chris Paul prior to the 2011-12 season fell through.
"I'm happy and proud of how the guys have fought through what we've been through and what we've gone through," Gasol said. "That's what I like to see. That's what I'll keep in my mind and my heart. What happens next is totally up to the team and management. That's totally not in our hands."
What is in the depleted Lakers' hands is their Game 4 performance.
"We want to win and we're not going to just quit because all the odds are against us," Howard said. "We're going to fight and that's the only way we know how to play."
Added D'Antoni: "You can't do something that everybody will talk about if everybody expects you to do it. Nobody expects us to do it, so, we're going to show and we're going to try to do it. And why not? We've got good guys. They've battled since February getting us into this position, and now we're in another big hole, trying to dig out little by little. That's our mindset. We'll see if we can do it."