Lakers Get Gritty To Get Back On Track

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BROOKLYN – By any means necessary. That’s Los Angeles Lakers’ new mantra. Hollywood’s team of stars now has little choice but to get hardened and gritty if they’re going to get themselves back to the playoff stage.

On Tuesday, the Lakers gutted out a character-building, 92-83 victory in Brooklyn. Despite the absences of two starters — Metta World Peace and Dwight Howard — who have won a combined four Defensive Player of the Year awards, they held a top-10 offensive team to just 83 points on 92 possessions. It was L.A.’s sixth win in their last seven games, the best stretch of basketball they’ve played all season.

“It feels good to be able to pull out a win like this,” Kobe Bryant said afterward. “But now, reality kind of sets in.”

Reality is another injury. With less than five minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Pau Gasol injured his right foot. After the game, the Lakers called it a plantar fascia sprain, but Gasol said afterward that he “felt a pop” in the bottom of his foot. He’s set to have an MRI in Boston on Wednesday to determine the full extent of the damage.

For Bryant, despite the Lakers’ much-needed and much-deserved win, the night was an overall negative.

“It got worse,” Bryant said three times when asked about the situation his team is in. “We can’t afford to lose Pau for a long stretch. We need to get him back.”

It’s been noted that the Lakers are better with just one of the Gasol/Howard pairing on the floor than they are with both. But with neither? Yikes.

That’s the situation they may be facing for the remaining three games of their road trip. Howard is dealing with a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder and says he’s not in any rush to get back. And nobody sounded very optimistic about Gasol’s status.

“I’m very, very concerned, to say the least,” Bryant said.

Of course, no Gasol and no Howard was the situation the Lakers faced in the final 3:52 in Brooklyn on Tuesday. And they managed to survive. They also survived stretches at the start of both the second and fourth quarters with five guys not named Nash, Bryant or Gasol on the floor.

“We had to really scrap,” Steve Nash said. “Guys were guarding people bigger than them at every position. And we had to rotate and scramble and still get on the glass and try to get some boards. So that was what I was most proud of.

Earl Clark, who recorded his seventh double-double of the last 15 games on Tuesday, and was tasked with defending All-Star Brook Lopez down the stretch. Clark has played a critical role of late and Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni believes in him — as does the fifth leading scorer in NBA history.

“He’s just a really good player,” Bryant said, adding that the Lakers “would be in deep crap” if they didn’t have Clark, who was essentially a throw-in in the Howard trade.

The Lakers now believe that they can get through some adversity. Things changed a couple of weeks ago, and they’ve seemingly put their issues behind them, even if Gasol isn’t happy about his role (when Howard is healthy).

“We’re more of a team,” Nash said. “We’re sharing the ball. We’re playing better defensively. We have a sense of cohesion and camaraderie that’s improving. I think that brings empowerment, that brings belief, enthusiasm. Everyone’s contributing. In some ways, we’ve turned a little corner. But we’ve still got a long ways to go.”

We think of the Lakers as a team of stars that can get by on talent. They’re not exactly an underdog when they’ve still got Nash and Bryant in their backcourt, and they’ll get World Peace back from his one-game suspension on Thursday in Boston. But to get through this stretch and keep their playoff hopes alive, they’re going to need more toughness than talent.

“I think going through what we went through at the start of the season has kind of gave us a little more fortitude, a little more grit,” Bryant told NBA TV. “So when these things happen to us, we don’t get discouraged. We just keep on battling and continue to think strategically.”

19 Comments

  1. Max says:

    Lakers vs Brooklyn? Had P.Gasol for part of the game, Gasol got hurt again, but Lakers still won. Then the Heat? No Gasol, but Howard???BIG LOST! more to be said??? Howard hurts the Lakers more than he helps. He is just not mature enough to play in the NBA!

  2. Hunter says:

    I call this Karma. This is what you get for benching him, blaming him, scapegoating him, spreading rumors about trading him. NOW LA can’t d anything with him because he’s injured, can’t trade him at the deadline. LA deserves this.

  3. Patty says:

    THANK GOD FOR KOBI!!!

  4. Joshua Greenfarb says:

    Thanks to Jay-Z for being key to the Nets losing to the Lakers on the Nets’ home floor. This has got to be one of the biggest upsets of the season.

    But, there’s more to it. I didn’t see the game, but I know what’s really going on here.

    Kobe Bryant may have said, “I owe you one!” To whom? To Jay-Z after the Lakers upset the Thunder in a surprising recent Laker win.

    Bryant’s or the Lakers’ paychecks may have went to the Nets. Trade a regular season win for cash? Hmmmmm.

    The Thunder and Nets are “sitting pretty” for many reasons in the long run. The Lakers keep jeopardizing their future more and more. They can’t rely on bribing on a daily basis. They may have thousands and millions to throw around, but not billions. They can’t keep breaking the bank, so to speak. in order to squeak into the playoffs (which still won’t happen). And they can’t keep cheating like this because sooner or later they’ll get caught. Lance Armstrong, anyone? It’ll get too obvious. Cause we all know (in a legit game) the Lakers can’t really defeat the Nets or the Thunder. Come playoff time, the Thunder will completely dominate the West. No messing around or cash-trades. The Thunder are sitting pretty and will take it to another level come playoff time.

    • Joshua Greenfarb says:

      For any Breaking Bad fans … Lakers probably are on future books for legacy costs. Legacy pay to opposing teams they may have bribed to make sure these financial transactions are kept secret. Lakers want to avoid getting into any kind of trouble … or make sure word doesn’t get out cause it’ll tarnish them forever — being branded as cheaters.

    • Truth says:

      You dont know how stupid of a comment you just made, best example of a true hater… just sayin

      • Joshua Greenfarb says:

        No, I just hate cheaters.

        The last person that questioned my intelligence wound up being proven wrong (I predicted the Lakers would not make the playoffs before this season began).

        So … you questioning my intelligence … uh oh … I’m right again????? The Lakers do bribe other teams???? :-D

        Don’t hate me because I’m right.

  5. Alex Basan says:

    Might as you have to get a replacement to your two centers. And now is the time to do that! T all those people that are commenting bad about the Lakers. Much better for you to just zip your mouth rather than saying bad about the team. If you don’t like the team that is your choice, but please better mind your own business!

  6. Ro says:

    Seriously… Pretty soon they’ll be writing about what each of the Lakers eat for breakfast, and when they go to the dunny!!
    Can’t you guys write something with substance, that isn’t ‘goss’ about LA. Yes, They’re better when Kobe doesnt jack up shots. Yes they’re better when D’Antoni adjusts the system to the players, not the players to the system. Yes, Dwight is an overrated baby. Yes, Artest is still a tool, even after changing his name. We all STILL know all of this, even after 50 games.
    Wouldnt mind hearing about some other teams for once. Warriors? Playing very solid and just got their center back.
    I’d rather see things like that video of MJ participating in practice with the Bobcats than read any other hollywood rubbish about the Lakers. We all knew Dwight, Pau, Kobe, Nash would never be great cos they’re all ball dominant at their best!
    Rant over

  7. LA all the way says:

    very impresive wins 6 of 7 so far..keep it up…

  8. TTKIN says:

    Earl Clark has been amazing. Give a few years and he could be a major talent on both ends of the floor no matter what team he’s on. Definitely deserves to start in the NBA.

  9. Lakersfan says:

    So witch team are they Talking about then, The Heats, Or thunders.?????
    We will be ok as long we don’t panic, all we need is concentration and focus, Plus Mette is going be in the line up and maybe Howard.

  10. W/E says:

    Now we know that the trade was made to get Earl Clark and not D12, no D12 no problem, the Lakers are winning on the road without him…

  11. Rice Owls says:

    Youu guys should rename this blog the LA Lakers blog