Mike D’Antoni knew that beating the Thunder on Friday without Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol would be asking a lot of his reeling Lakers. That’s why he placed the emphasis on beginning the team’s potential run at turning things around on Sunday night’s home game against the 9-29 Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I told the team, the biggest thing is our season starts Sunday,” he said. “We’ve got to make a run. We’ve got one shot at it, and everybody needs to get ready mentally and physically.”
If the Lakers are to begin to put together a streak beginning Sunday, they’ll have to do it without Gasol, and possibly without Howard, as well.
Pau Gasol will miss his fourth game because of a concussion. Dwight Howard (shoulder) will be a game-time decision. #Lakers
— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) January 13, 2013
Howard will be reevaluated before tip-off, and if he is able to go, his mere presence inside should ensure that Cleveland will have major difficulty offensively outside of the guard play of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.
The Cavaliers won the first meeting of the season between the two teams back on Dec. 11 in Cleveland, and while Gasol missed that one with knee tendinitis, the Cavaliers got 20 points, nine rebounds, and five assists from Anderson Varejao, who is now out himself due to a knee injury that required surgery.
With or without Howard, and definitely without Gasol, D’Antoni is right — the Lakers need to start piling up wins very soon if they’re going to begin to turn it around, and Sunday night against the Cavaliers would seem to be the right time to start.