The Los Angeles Lakers went into their game against the Toronto Raptors down an extremely important piece as Dwight Howard was not with the team. The Lakers announced just before tipoff that Howard was away from the team to deal with a personal matter and the hope was that he would be able to join them for their upcoming road trip.
While the Raptors don’t have a traditional center, they have a lot of size, athleticism and effort across the board, which really shows itself on the glass.
The Raptors came into the game as the second-best offensive rebounding team in the NBA and they showed exactly why against the Lakers as they grabbed 19 offensive boards in their 11-point victory over L.A.
Overall, the Lakers were outrebounded by 21 and head coach Frank Vogel lamented being without their only true big man in Howard.
“This is definitely a game where we could’ve used Dwight. We got hurt on the boards. We’re just shorthanded, but we got to push through that stuff. We’ve been getting more and more accustomed to playing smaller. This team is really long. Not with one dominant seven-footer, but a lot of long wings. Just athletic guys out there. We missed Dwight.”
Wenyen Gabriel did bring energy during his time and that was shown with his nine rebounds in just 19 minutes, but the Lakers clearly missed having Howard out on the court. The physicality that he brings and his presence makes such a difference, especially against a team like the Raptors that thrives in the paint.
The Raptors had five players grab at least eight rebounds as Gabriel, LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony represented the team’s only size on the night. With the Lakers in dire need of a spark, Howard would have been a welcome addition, but unfortunately, the big man had family issues that he needed to tend to.
Hopefully all is well for Howard’s family as nothing is more important than that. If he needed to leave to take care of that then it was undoubtedly something that was a serious matter. But it looks as if he will be back as the Lakers prepare to hit the road and he will be sorely needed as they try and end this season on a positive note.
Anthony Davis ‘very optimistic’ about return in the near future
Hopefully Howard won’t be the Lakers’ only option for size soon as Anthony Davis continues to work his way back from that nasty injury he suffered. Davis has been cleared for on-court shooting and he is keeping up hope that he will be able to return soon.
Davis noted that he is very optimistic about a return to the Lakers in the near future, noting that the swelling in his foot has decreased and the function has increased. There is no doubt that he is doing everything in his power to get back on the court in purple and gold.
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