After a team meeting before Tuesday's game, the Los Angeles Lakers were fired up and looking for a win. They didn't get it, and they lost Dwight Howard in the process. Howard is listed as day-to-day with a re-aggravation of his shoulder injury. The question now is, how severe is the shoulder injury?
Medically speaking, we already know the severity of the injury. Howard has a torn labrum but can play with it. What we don't know is how well Hoard can play with the injury. After the game, Howard said he was going to have to figure out a way to play with the injury, but how likely is that?
"It felt real bad. I didn't want to try to play through it because I didn't want to hurt it any worse, so (the Lakers' training staff) asked me not to play. ... I'll see what he says and then go from there."
Howard is averaging 16.7 points per game and 12.0 rebounds per game this season. For any other player, these would be solid numbers - something to embrace and be happy about. For Howard, this is a drop in production. Part of the problem seems to be playing in Mike D'Antoni's system, but the other part is clearly the shoulder.
Since Howard suffered the shoulder injury and sat out three-straight games, his production has been dropping consistently. His return was marked with a solid performance, a spike in production, and then four-straight games with less than sufficient offensive numbers. Here are his numbers for the six games since returning from the torn labrum (expressed as points/rebounds):
There is a substantial drop-off in production in the last three games Howard has played. His minutes have decreased, and he is seemingly not able to do the things necessary to help the Lakers win. The drop in production correlates with the shoulder injury, so it seems safe to assume that as long as Howard is battling the pain, he is going to be far from the player who has averaged 18.3 points and 12.9 rebounds per game in his career.