The Los Angeles Lakers were hit with a double dose of bad news at shootaround on Tuesday.
First, they received word that Dwight Howard would not be available for the Tuesday night game against the Brooklyn Nets. Then, the NBA informed Los Angeles that Metta World Peace was suspended for one game after throwing a punch in Detroit.
World Peace will always be tied with the Palace at Auburn Hills because he infamously jumped into the stands in 2004. On Sunday, World Peace became entangled with Pistons’ guard Brandon Knight, and the man previously known as Ron Artest was judged to have acted in a manner that resulted in a one-game suspension.
The short-handed Lakers barely have any hands available to play on Tuesday.
It is hard to determine which player, Howard or World Peace, is a bigger loss for Tuesday’s game, but the Lakers cannot do much more than lace up their shoes and play hard.
Pau Gasol will continue to start in place of Howard, who is missing his third straight game with a shoulder injury. World Peace’s absence provides a completely different headache, as the Lakers are already without the services of power forward Jordan Hill for the remainder of the season.
Antawn Jamison will likely move into the starting lineup, but the Lakers’ bench becomes razor thin if both Gasol and Jamison are in the starting five.
Likely, Robert Sacre will see some time at backup center, and Jamison and Earl Clark will attempt to split minutes at under-sized power forward. Kobe Bryant will likely spend considerable time at small forward with the Lakers having an abundance of guards available at the moment—Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jodie Meeks, Darius Johnson, and Chris Duhon are all healthy.
The Lakers also have the option of bringing in Devin Ebanks to provide some scoring at small forward, but he has only played eight minutes in the past 20 games. Mike D’Antoni has not shown much faith in Ebanks, so the shooting small forward is not the first option for the Lakers’ coach.
The Lakers are winners in five of their last six games, but even the extraordinary efforts of Bryant and Gasol may not be able to overcome the Lakers’ lack of size on Tuesday night in Brooklyn.
With Howard and World Peace out against the Nets, the Lakers are without their two most physical players and their two best defenders. Tuesday could be a long night in Brooklyn for the Lake Show.