The Lakers went through a tough Texas two-step without their top three big men, as Dwight Howard (shoulder), Pau Gasol (concussion) and Jordan Hill (hip) could only watch losses to Houston and San Antonio.
When will they respectively return?
Gasol saw Dr. Vern Williams on Thursday, and while the Spaniard showed improvement, he is still not cleared to play basketball. Gasol will be examined once again on Friday morning, in advance of the team’s Friday evening home game against Oklahoma City.
Howard told reporters before Tuesday’s game in Houston that he’s hoping to return soon, and will not need surgery, for his shoulder injury. However, the team does not want him to rush back and risk further injury.
“(The doctor) doesn’t want me to continue to aggravate it every night, because that could cause problems later on in the season,” Howard said. “Or it could come to the point where somebody fouled me hard enough and it could (further injure the shoulder), so (we don’t) want that to happen.”
Howard will be re-evaluated next week, but he’s definitely out for Friday’s game against the Thunder.
Jordan Hill will also be re-evaluated early next week after an MRI earlier this week revealed a small tear to the labrum of his left hip. He’ll be treated conservatively, according to the team.
In the meantime, we’ll see more Robert Sacre and Earl Clark, who both offered bright spots on the two-game trip in relief duty. Clark, with his career-high 22 points and 13 rebounds, may have just played his way into the rotation even when all three bigs return.