Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 1/13/13
EL SEGUNDO Earl Clark savior? Or is it: Earl Clark savior! His performance in the next 46 games will ultimately provide the answer. The Lakers dont necessarily need the versatile 6-9 Clark to save them from playoff oblivion. They are, however, counting on him to replace the minutes and production of Jordan Hill. Numbers-wise hes been even better than the always-energized Hill, who is out for the rest of the season as he awaits surgery to repair a damaged left hip. With Hill, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol all injured and unable to play, the former Louisville star has averaged 32.5 minutes, 16 points and 11.5 rebounds in the past two games. Hill is averaging 6.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in 15.8 minutes. After 24 DNPs this season, coach Mike DAntoni started Clark Friday night in the 116-101 loss to Oklahoma City at Staples Center and should do the same Sunday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Hell probably remain as a starter until Gasol returns from his concussion, and says hell do whatever the Lakers need him to do for as long as they need him to do it. I just want to seize the opportunity, the easy-going Clark said. I work hard on my game, play as hard as I can and try to help my team win. Whatever (DAntoni) asks me to do, Ill do it. I dont want to look back one day and say coulda, shoulda. I wanted to make sure I gave it my best effort. That effort along with a lot of desire will be necessary because DAntoni has some interesting plans for Clark on the defensive side of the ball. Hes got unique talents, DAntoni said of Clark. He can guard the three, the four and the one. I do like his feet and his quickness, and hell definitely be part of the rotation. Wait; did DAntoni really say you might see Clark trying to stop the freakishly fast Kyrie Irving Sunday night? I really like Kobe (Bryant) on the point guard, said DAntoni, backing off a little. But hell back up Pau at the four, Metta (World Peace) at the three, and yeah, sometimes well use him to guard the point. (Clark) on the ball is something well do a little more. Having a big guy being able to guard a one could change the entire dynamic of a struggling Laker defense if Clark is successful. Oh yeah, DAntoni said. Something like that gives a coach a whole lot of weapons when you have a player whos able to do a lot of things. Clarks success since the rash of injuries has surprised a lot of people, including DAntoni. Its hasnt been a revelation for the man himself, who just stayed ready for the moment that opportunity called. It was tough (mentally) some days were better than others, he said. But the NBA is a business and its a job, too. I love what I do, so I just stayed in the gym and continued to be ready, because I know (my) names going to get called. Theres 82 games and I just wanted to answer the call. NOTESHoward and Gasol will be re-examined before the game against Cleveland. Theres a slight possibility that both could play. When asked about suiting up, Howard said, I wish.
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