With the news that Dwight Howard will not play tonight against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Pau Gasol will have his chance back at the starting spot. Gasol has been a consistent part of the second unit for the past six games, which included a fourth quarter benching in the Lakers win over the New Orleans Hornets. According to Lakers reporter Mike Trudell, Pau Gasol will start at center tonight with Earl Clark at power forward.
Dwight Howard is out tonight due to his sore right shoulder. Expect Pau Gasol to start at center & Earl Clark at PF at Minnesota.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) February 1, 2013
This brings up another question. Besides the rookie Robert Sacre, who can the Lakers rely on to backup Pau Gasol at the center position, especially when the Timberwolves have a beast of a man (Nikola Pekovich) controlling the paint? As Mike Bresnahan of the L.A. Times informed us, it’s Metta World Peace.
Metta World Peace is Lakers’ backup center (again). He’ll sometimes match up against NBA’s strongest player, Nikola Pekovic. Awesome.
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) February 1, 2013
This isn’t a first for Metta World Peace, who was asked to play in the post after Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Jordan Hill were all sidelined. On January 7th, in the Lakers loss to the Houston Rockets, Peace ended up pouring in a season-high 24 points, and even had four steals. But, the Lakers lost that game, and Houston outscored them 60-44 in the paint.
On the upside, the Lakers still have Pau Gasol, who will hopefully continue to play with a chip on his shoulder with something to prove. He had 14 points and five boards in Wednesday’s loss to the Phoenix Suns, in 37 minutes of play. Unfortunately, his public voicing of unhappiness with his current role has been overshadowing the 7-footer’s presence on the court. Let’s hope tonight, we see the Bryant and Gasol combination that led to three consecutive trips to the NBA Finals.
For more on Dwight Howard, take a look at our injury update and shootaround report below.