Lakers News: L.A. Needs Ailing Dwight Howard Back on Court ASAP

Mike HoagCorrespondent IIFebruary 1, 2013

Jan. 30, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: A team trainer tends to Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (right) after suffering an injury in the second half against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Lakers 92-86.  Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers big man Dwight Howard will miss Friday night’s game against Minnesota after re-aggravating his torn labrum (right shoulder) during his team’s Wednesday night loss to Phoenix, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles.

The Lakers were in control against the Suns but blew a late 13-point lead and the game after Howard’s early exit.

Howard is set to undergo an increasingly popular platelet-rich plasma therapy, McMenamin said. This unproven method entails “centrifuging the patient’s blood to isolate platelets and growth factors.” Then, a mix is injected into the injured area which will hopefully accelerate his healing.

If Howard misses an extended period of time, and he might, the Lakers could be in danger of taking significant steps backwards after apparently turning a corner over the last week.

That corner was turned in desperation after media and internal struggles embattled the team into fighting for its legitimacy.

The Lakers finally responded, rattling off three consecutive wins after dropping four in a row previously. Of course, that was with Howard in the lineup. Los Angeles lost all three of its games the last time its 6’11” center missed significant playing time.

For good reason, too.

The Lakers are one of, if not the, biggest media markets in basketball. That puts a lot of pressure on the team to perform, especially given the lofty preseason expectations after bringing in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.

Those expectations are not gone and every move the team makes is held under a microscope.

Can the Lakers defeat this adversity and get to the postseason?

Despite it all, the Lakers are still a very well-built team that has excellent talent. But that talent isn’t going to be maximized to its fullest potential if injuries continue to derail each sign of progress.

Howard’s injury apparently isn’t going away any time soon.

They need to hope this treatment is successful and that it can help permanently fix his ailing shoulder. If not, and it lingers, they may have to shut Howard down in order for him to heal.

If they shut him down and he misses significant amounts of time, there will be problems. Without Howard, the Lakers can kiss their playoff hopes goodbye.