The Lakers find themselves in a very bittersweet situation. While the team chemistry has never been higher with a 3-1 record on the Grammy road trip thus far, the thought of potentially being without two of their best big men, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill, for an extended period of time, hangs over the minds of Lakers Nation. While we wait for Gasol’s MRI results on his injured foot, the return date of Dwight Howard remains up in the air as his day-to-day status continues.
Earl Clark’s emergence since the San Antonio match 15 games ago, has covered up a huge portion of the Lakers’ ailments. Kobe Bryant was asked where the Lakers would be if Clark hadn’t step up to the call, to which he replied, “We’d be in deep crap.” In the last 15 games, Clark has posted seven double-doubles, just as many as Howard.
Head coach Mike D’Antoni discussed what Clark brings to the table defensively:
“He’s earned a lot of trust and he can guard everybody,” said Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni. “He can guard from the point guard to the center. It’s invaluable to have somebody like that.”
Steve Blake added:
“When you have a guy that’s still working hard, even when he’s not playing, and then he finally gets his chance and he makes the best of it, that’s how you earn respect, and I think he’s earned it from all of us on the team,” said Steve Blake, a gym rat if there ever was one. “So, we couldn’t be happier for him. I see him getting on the shooting machine before practice and, as someone that’s in the gym a lot myself, when I see him in there before me, it’s just like, he really wants it. It’s impressive.”
Earl Clark has received the seal of approval from Kobe Bryant, who had the following to say:
“He’s been consistent since we put him in the lineup against San Antonio,” Bryant said. “He’s just been consistently playing well. When that happens, you just have to say the player is good. He’s good. He does it on a nightly basis with rebounds and knocking down jumpers and handling the ball and defending. He’s just a really good player.”
Clark earned yet another double-double Tuesday night in a great win against the Brooklyn Nets. The New Jersey native posted 14 points and 12 rebounds, including two clutch free-throws and a timely jumper. Clark once again showed off his versatility by guarding almost everyone in a Nets uniform, from Joe Johnson to Brook Lopez.
Clark has already stated that he would prefer to remain a Laker after this season as he is a free agent this summer. He is certainly proving his value individually and as a teammate this season.