What Does Earl Clark’s Emergence Mean For The Lakers, Pau Gasol?

NBA: Preseason-Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles LakersI know, it was only one game–but what a game it was!

After riding the bench all season, Earl Clark finally played significant minutes on Tuesday night against the Houston Rockets and did quite well with five points, nine rebounds, and three assists.

But then on Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs, Earl Clark turned into Clark Kent and almost became Superman for the Lakers.

Given 27:33 minutes, Earl Clark made the most of each and every second; contributing 22 points (on a remarkable 9-12 shooting), 13 rebounds, and three assists.

Clark was doing it all–shooting, driving, cutting, passing, rebounding, defending–and even knocked down a huge three-pointer late in the game against the Spurs.

“Who is this guy?” many casual Lakers fans may have been wondering. Well, the 24-year-old (25 a week from today), 6’10” forward came over to the Lakers alongside Dwight Howard and Chris Duhon in the blockbuster deal over the summer as a throw-in. However, with career averages of just 3.0 points and 2.0 rebounds, even those familiar with Clark couldn’t have predicted the outburst he put on display Wednesday night.

No, the Lakers didn’t win the game, but they came daringly close, and a big part of it was due to Earl Clark.

Clark showed incredible poise and concentration; the focus of a player who epitomizes the song “Lose Yourself” by Eminem.

In Clark’s eyes, he had one moment to prove that he belongs in the Lakers’ rotation, and even that he belongs in the NBA, period.

He didn’t just come alive against an average team at home, though. He played a remarkable game against one of the best teams in the league in a meaningful game–on the road!

So, what exactly does this mean?

It means that Mike D’Antoni has to somehow find minutes for Earl Clark.

Many fans have already said it’s time to trade Pau Gasol or at least bench him, and start Earl Clark in his stead.

I’m still a firm believer in Pau Gasol, and I even wrote an article on why the Lakers shouldn’t send him to the bench.

However, because the Lakers are “stacked”–so to speak–at the power forward position, the team is in the midst of a five-game losing streak, and two players (Gasol and Jordan Hill) are currently out due to injury, anything should be up for discussion when it comes to grinding out wins in the end.

I also recently wrote an article on how Antawn Jamison could finally get going with the Lakers as he averages solid numbers when given 25-plus minutes on the floor, but obviously his defense is always a liability when he’s on the floor.

Therefore, the benefit that Earl Clark could possibly provide might be exactly what the Lakers need.

Next Page: How Does Clark’s Style Compare, And What Should The Lakers Do?

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