Will Dwight Howard's Shoulder Injury Derail L.A. Lakers' Resurgence?

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Will Dwight Howard's Shoulder Injury Derail L.A. Lakers' Resurgence?
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers blew a 13-point fourth-quarter lead and fell to the Phoenix Suns 92-86, a loss that snapped L.A.'s three-game winning streak. To make matters worse, Dwight Howard suffered another shoulder injury and had to leave the game during Phoenix's fourth-quarter rally.

Los Angeles struggled all game long with ball security, racking up 19 turnovers.

The Lakers shot poorly, just over 42 percent from the floor and under 30 percent from the three-point line. That was mostly thanks to a rough night from Metta World Peace, a rare inefficient night from Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant's poor shooting down the stretch.

While they did lose their winning streak, they did see another streak continue involving their road woes.

This loss stings a little more because it is the first of a seven-game road trip that will keep the Lakers away from home until mid-February.

The fourth-quarter collapse was already under way when Howard was injured, but it jumped into overdrive with the center out of the game.

It seems like the most obvious thought a logical person can have, but the Lakers desperately need Howard when things start to fall apart. He's there to grab rebounds, and as the team's best defensive player, he's capable of stopping a run with a single play.

Howard has left a game with a shoulder injury three times this season, once against the Clippers when he initially tore his labrum, keeping him out for a few games, and then a week ago against the Memphis Grizzlies, which kept him out for the second half.

If this injury turns out to be recurring, it could end up seriously affecting the Lakers.

Although it seems that for now, he's going to be day-to-day.

While we can prattle on about Howard having a down year, it's impossible to argue that he's not wildly important for the Lakers.

His defense speaks for itself, but his offense is just as important to the team. Howard gives the Lakers another weapon to make shots when Kobe gets the passing bug.

The best way to keep the passing bug in Kobe, and keep as many players involved in the offense as possible, is to keep him confident in the rest of his team, which Kobe obviously wasn't down the stretch against the Suns.

An injured Howard is definitely a blow to Los Angeles' chances of making the playoffs, and if it keeps popping up like this, which is looking increasingly likely, then the Lakers are going to be in for a rough final few months of the season.

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