Pau Gasol's Untimely Injury Will Prevent Lakers from Reaching Playoffs

Pete Schauer@@Pete_SchauerCorrespondent IFebruary 8, 2013

Apr. 7, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Pau Gasol during the game against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Lakers 125-105.  Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With Dwight Howard clearly ailing, Pau Gasol's injury couldn't come at a worse time for the 23-27 Los Angeles Lakers.

Gasol injured his foot in a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night, tearing his plantar fascia. The injury will cause him to miss a reported six to eight weeks, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.

Here's a quick look at the injury, which the Spaniard sustained against the Nets:

During the Lakers' 21-point loss to the Boston Celtics on Thursday night, it became increasingly clear that L.A. can't win without the interior presence of Gasol.

Howard returned to action after being called out by Kobe Bryant, but the 6'11" center was ineffective against the Celtics on Thursday night.

From the opening tip, it was clear to see Howard was hurting and wasn't looking to put his body on anyone, which allowed offensive rebounds and multiple second chances to Boston's offense.

Howard finished the game with just nine points and nine rebounds, but he turned it over four times and sported a minus-nine plus/minus mark for the night.

The Lakers trail the eighth-seeded Houston Rockets by just 3.5 games, but it's hard to imagine L.A. reaching the postseason without Gasol and with an injured and inconsistent Howard.

If it does take Gasol a full eight weeks to recover, there will be just a few games left on the schedule. It could be too little, too late for the Lakers by that point.

The Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers each have the talent to make the playoffs over the Lakers, as both teams are within five games of the No. 8 seed.

Even Kobe knows how important the seven-footer is to L.A.'s success, telling Bresnahan:

"I think L.A.'s kind of seeing how much we miss Pau and what he brings to the table in his skill set.Β Maybe now they'll start appreciating him a little bit more."

Earl Clark has really stepped up and filled some holes in this Lakers roster, but he doesn't bring to the table what Gasol and Howard do.

Without an interior presence to defend the rim and a post-up option in the paint, this is a completely different team. Los Angeles doesn't have the manpower to compete for the postseason without Gasol.

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