Dwight Howard out Friday for Lakers due to shoulder injury

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This shouldn’t come as a surprise. If you read ProBasketballTalk’s story on the injury from Brett Pollakoff, who was in the Lakers’ locker room after the loss to the Suns, you’d know Dwight Howard was in a lot of pain.

Howard will sit out Friday night when the Lakers take on the Minnesota Timberwolves, something first tweeted Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. The Lakers have since confirmed this.

Howard has been playing through the pain of a torn labrum in his left shoulder. He’s been hoping that treatment and rest would keep the pain manageable and he could play through it and not need surgery. However, he missed three games earlier with the injury, had to leave one game early after his shoulder ran into Rudy Gay on a pick, and now he will miss at least one game this time. The injury was aggravated in Phoenix when he tried to bring his arms up for a shot and was fouled across the arms — the strain on his shoulder caused him instant pain.

“It’s real sore,” Howard said after the game. “Everything on this (right) side is hurting pretty bad right now….

“Numbness just went all down my arm and my neck,” he said of what he felt at the moment it was aggravated. “It was pretty bad when it happened.”

This could be more than just one game he misses.

Friday night is the second game of the Lakers Grammy road trip, when the music award show kicks them (and the Clippers) out of Staples Center for two weeks. The Lakers had won three games in a row before the trip started but suffered an ugly come-from-ahead loss to Phoenix, with the Suns comeback coinciding with when Howard went out.

Pau Gasol will get the start at center. That shouldn’t hurt the Lakers offense much but Howard has been much better on the defensive end in terms of protecting the paint. The break for the Lakers is that Minnesota is banged up, too, and will be without Kevin Love.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.