4.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Los Angeles Lakers are up by one and Dwight Howard is at the charity stripe shooting free throws. It’s just not a great scenario and it’s not something that the Lakers can have happening during the playoffs. The Lakers need to have Earl Clark and Pau Gasol in the court for the majority of the game. Since returning from his foot injury, Gasol has been exactly what the Lakers have need.
“We’re using him the right way,” said Kobe Bryant of Gasol to the Los Angeles Times. “We’re using his strengths in terms of his ability to facilitate and his ability to shoot the ball.
Bryant and Gasol have been dominating the offence, “You can’t stop it. You can’t guard it,” said Bryant. “You just hope we miss. There’s really no reasonable way you can defend that.”
Since Gasol and Clark are both power forwards, Clark has had to go back to the bench since the return of Gasol. Gasol is playing over 30 minutes a game since returning. Thus, leaving little time for Clark, who has more than earned his minutes. Clark is 6’10 and he’s always right in there next to Howard trying to get the block or the rebound. The Lakers won nine games in the month of March and seven of those where games that Clark played 20 minutes or more in.
Howard still needs to start because it would be insulting to bench him. However, he doesn’t necessarily need to play as much as he currently is, especially against teams that don’t have a true center.
This just hasn’t been his season and that doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon.