Injuries mount as Lakers face elimination by Spurs
Facing an 0-3 deficit to the surging San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Lakers probably will run out of games in their season before they run out of healthy players.
But it'll be close.
Coach Mike D'Antoni said Metta World Peace won't play in Game 4 of their first-round series today when the Lakers attempt to avoid their earliest playoff exit since 2007. That's going to be tough with a starting lineup including Earl Clark, Andrew Goudelock and Darius Morris facing Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and the playoff-tested Spurs.
The Lakers might laugh at the absurdity of their injury problems if this dire situation wasn't such a crushing disappointment for a team that began the season with championship aspirations. Instead, they expressed as much plausible optimism as possible after Saturday's practice at their quiet training complex.
"Despite all the injuries, as a team we've stayed together," said a solemn Dwight Howard, who is eligible for free agency after the season. "When most teams would fall apart and blame each other and point a finger, we've stayed together, become a closer team throughout all the adversity."
San Antonio handed the Lakers their biggest home playoff defeat in franchise history in Game 3. After the 31-point blowout put the series into such stark terms on a gorgeous day in Southern California, both clubs had to avoid the natural inclination to look ahead -- the Spurs to the second round, and the Lakers to summer.
The Spurs realize they're thought to be the new favorite to come out of the West after Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook was ruled out for the postseason. Just don't expect Duncan, Parker or coach Gregg Popovich even to dignify such speculation by thinking beyond today.
"Hopefully we can close this series out on (today) and give our team some time to rest, get everybody healthy again," Duncan told reporters after practice at Santa Monica Community College.
J.R. Smith suspended for Game 4: The NBA suspended Knicks guard J.R. Smith on Saturday night for Game 4 of New York's playoff series against Boston for elbowing the Celtics' Jason Terry in the chin.
Smith, the league's Sixth Man of the Year, will be forced to sit out when the Knicks try to complete a four-game sweep today.
The Knicks had a big lead Friday night when Smith, holding the ball, swung his elbow into Terry's face with 7:06 remaining. Smith was given a flagrant foul 2, an automatic ejection.