The Lakers took yet another step back last night after being blown-out by the Celtics. The progress that was made over the past seven games was jeopardized by the news that Pau Gasol will miss a minimum of six to eight weeks with a torn plantar fascia. There seemed like good news when we were told that Dwight Howard would return, but he seemed mentally unprepared to get back into action last night.
The defense was once again dismal, as they gave up 37 points in the third quarter alone. The offense was atrocious and was completely stagnate for most of the game due to extremely low and ineffective ball movement. Steve Nash pointed out that the Lakers failed to adjust to getting into a rhythm with Dwight Howard, after doing well with Gasol.
“It’s tough,” Steve Nash said. “Now here we are finding ourselves, we have a great rhythm with Pau, and now he’s gone and now we have to find a rhythm with Dwight, and it’s just constantly changing and trying to find a rhythm and understanding of each other. It’s stop, start. Tonight with Dwight back in the lineup, I felt like we didn’t have a great rhythm offensively and I didn’t think we really played that well defensively, obviously. Now we got to try to build him back into the lineup and find a way for him and us to collectively be successful.”
Last night, Howard appeared to be hesitant on both ends of the floor because of his injured shoulder. However, you cannot completely judge a player’s performance going forward based on his first game back after a injury. Howard recorded nine points and nine rebounds in 28 minutes. He also fouled out of the game in the fourth quarter, which hinted that he isn’t afraid to be physical despite his ailing shoulder.
However, the Lakers must find a way to get back into rhythm with Dwight Howard. With Gasol sidelined, any playoff hopes depend on them doing so. The impact from Gasol’s absence was on full display last night in Boston, as the concept of ball movement basically disappeared. As Kobe Bryant told reporters last night:
“I think, in a way, L.A. is kind of seeing how much we miss Pau and what he brings to the table and his skill set,” Bryant said after the game. “Maybe now they’ll start appreciating him a little more.”
Dwight Howard remains a game time decision for tonight, as he will determine how his shoulder feels after the game in Boston. However, there was no setbacks to report for Howard. The Lakers have a chance to get on track when they play the Charlotte Bobcats tonight.