Lakers News: Potential Return of L.A. Big Men Will Help Slumping Lakers

Mike HoagCorrespondent IIJanuary 12, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 28:  Pau Gasol #16 and Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers react to a foul call during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Staples Center on December 28, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 104-87.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

The skidding Los Angeles Lakers could get some relief soon as both Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol are likely set to return in the near future.

The Lakers’ medical staff will reportedly re-evaluate the two ailing big men prior to the team’s matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles.

Gasol (concussion) and Howard (torn labrum, right shoulder) have missed the team’s last three games, and L.A. has lost each of those contests.

Another report by McMenamin labeled both Howard and Gasol as game-time decisions for the Sunday clash against Cleveland.

The Lakers have also lost three straight games prior to their big men's injuries, too.

The combined six-game losing streak has put them five games out of playoff contention and prompted some negativity from team legend Magic Johnson.

“It’s over for my Lakers. No playoffs, no nothing,” Johnson said on ESPN’s NBA studio show, according to Daniel Buerge of LakersNation.com.

While Johnson’s sentiment is shared by many fans, it’s a little too early for doom and gloom.

Regardless, negativity is at an all-high in the City of Angels. Even diehard celebrity enthusiast Jack Nicholson walked out on his team during their Staples Center spanking by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Jan. 11.

Even with Gasol and Howard back on the court, the problems aren’t going to be fixed overnight. The team still has some kinks to work out in the way the players distribute the basketball offensively.

Let’s not even get started on their defensive woes.

Point guard Steve Nash isn’t entirely optimistic that having the two back will help the team initially. He told McMenamin that it’s tough to operate with both Howard and Gasol on the court:

The fact of the matter, it's tough to get inside to him when Dwight and him are on the floor together. To Pau's credit, he can stretch the floor more than Dwight and he's more of a playmaker, so sometimes he's going to find himself on the perimeter.

One thing is certain: A blowout like the one the Thunder laid on the Lakers is not acceptable, and the team desperately needs its top two big men back in the lineup.

L.A. would still benefit from having its best bigs back despite Nash’s skepticism and the team’s struggles this season.

If Mike D’Antoni needs to change his scheme to accommodate his big men and Nash’s needs, then he needs to do that.

But having them back on the court, in any capacity, will be an improvement over the recent struggles we’ve seen in their absence.

That’s for sure.