Earl Clark has been quite reliable for the Lakers this season.
Earl Clark missed shootaround because of a sore right foot. Getting an MRI today.— Mark Medina (@MedinaLakersNBA) February 12, 2013
Obviously this is not good news for the Lakers or their fans.
Nevertheless, enough time remains in the season for the Lakers to sneak into the playoffs.
L.A. enters Tuesday night's matchup against the Phoenix Suns just 3.5 games behind the Houston Rockets. Despite the Lakers' age and defensive struggles this season, the remainder of this month is quite favorable for them schedule-wise.
After the Suns, L.A. squares off against the Clippers, Celtics and Trailblazers at home and then travels to the Mavericks and Nuggets back-to-back. L.A. will close out February with the Minnesota Timberwolves at home.
Without question the Clippers are the toughest opponent here, but the other games are winnable. Boston and Portland don't play well on the road, and the Mavericks and Nuggets are even worse defensively. Minnesota simply doesn't possess the offensive prowess to match L.A.
The Lakers have also been playing better than they have been given credit for recently. Shahan Ahmed of NBC 4 Southern California recently wrote:
If the Lakers do not have Clark available on Tuesday night, Antawn Jamison will likely start alongside Metta World Peace and Dwight Howard in the front court. Clark’s youth, defense, energy, and rebounding have been vital in the Lakers’ recent run of form; LA has won seven of its last 10 games.
Nevertheless, we have to be patient with the Lakers, as their collective experience and proven talent will be a competitive advantage as the season draws to a close.
Most definitely Clark has been solid since 2013 began.
Averaging 6.3 rebounds, 8.1 points and shooting 48.5 percent on field goals, Clark has evolved into a go-to man within Mike D'Antoni's system. Not to mention he has started 16 games and averaged 38.3 minutes per game in February.
What is your biggest concern with the Lakers as the season wears on?
It will also be better in the long run to ensure Clark is completely healthy and capable of undertaking the greater role he has been responsible for since early January.
A main issue—and this goes for Clark as well—is free-throw shooting.
The Lakers are ranked No. 29 with a 69.4 free-throw percentage. Ironically, L.A. is No. 1 in free throws attempted per game. So getting to the line isn't an issue, and the defense will come around like it did against the Brooklyn Nets and Utah Jazz recently.
The concern with Clark right now is his health and ability to be a main factor down the stretch. When healthy, he has taken advantage and capitalized on his provided opportunities.
The Lakers are playing solid basketball right now, and Bryant and Co. just have to keep the momentum rolling.