Antawn Jamison says diminished role “doesn’t make sense at all”

For the past 13 days, Antawn Jamison suddenly jumped from becoming one of the Lakers’ focal reserves to one staying seated on the bench.

Jamison missed the past five games because of the dreaded “DNP-Coach’s Decision.” Even in the Lakers’ 104-87 victory Friday over the Portland Trail Blazers, Jamison stayed there while seldom-used bench players Robert Sacre, Earl Clark and Devin Ebanks played garbage time.

“It doesn’t make sense at all,” Jamison said in a brief interview with this newspaper. “They’re pretty much telling me my services are no longer needed.”

Jamison signed with the Lakers this offseason to a one-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum ($1.4 million). Shortly after the Lakers fired Mike Brown, Jamison’s role expanded under coach Mike D’Antoni. He posted a season-high 33 points against Denver on Nov. 30 and then averaged 12.3 points over the next four games.

D’Antoni rationalized Jamison’s “DNP” against Portland more out of respect for the 15-year NBA veteran.

“I want him to feel comfortable when he goes in and not play garbage time,” D’Anton said. “He’s too good of a pro and has been around too long.”

But in other games, D’Antoni has sat Jamison for other reasons. D’Antoni loves Metta World Peace as a backup to Pau Gasol as power forward because of his consistency both on offense and defense. Meanwhile, he’s preferred using Jordan Hill at center to relieve Gasol and Dwight Howard because of his energy and hustle on defense.

Even though Jamison’s scoring helps stretch the floor, he’s struggled on defense. D’Antoni said Jamison “probably” will see more minutes since Gasol has nursed plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Yet, he then suggested Hill instead would play more to relieve Gasol.

“We don’t want to lose Antawn because he does what he does,” D’Antoni said. “We’ll see. Antawn’s ready to roll if we need him.”

Yet, Jamison suggested D’Antoni hasn’t explained that thought process directly.

“Nothing has been told to me or anything like that,” said Jamison, who’s averaged 7.2 points in 25 games this season, including five as a starter. “We’ll keep it in house. But it’s frustrating. You know you can help the team out and want to help the team out. But it’s not going that way. I’ll continue to work hard and do what’s asked of me to do.”

D’Antoni hardly sounded surprised Jamison might be frustrated.

“I’m sure he wants to play as any player wants to play,” D’Antoni said. “He’s the greatest professional. He knows his chance will come around.”

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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Dwight Howard plays with better energy in Lakers’ 104-87 win over Portland

Plenty of soul searching happened within the past two days for Dwight Howard, and most of it has involved channeling his anger.

And what better way to channel that frustration than dominating in every facet of the Lakers’ 104-87 win Friday over the Portland Trail Blazers? Howard’s 21 points and 14 rebounds sent a clear message that his sluggish play in recent weeks pointed more to effort than eight-month back surgery. Howard’s defensive energy showed he seems genuine in wanting to change his attitude two days after earning an ejection for committing a flagrant foul type 2 against Denver’s Kenneth Faried. Howard’s “edge,” as Kobe Bryant described it, reveals Howard’s awareness that he has plenty to prove.

“It starts with me,” Howard said afterward. “My effort has to be there every night. I can’t allow anything to affect how I play and that’s what I did tonight.”
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Metta World Peace lends perspective on playing with plantar fasciitis

As Pau Gasol takes the court tonight against the Porland Trail Blazers while nursing plantar fasciitis in his right foot, there’s one former teammate who fully understands the feeling.

Lakers forward Metta World Peace nurse the injury in the 2009-10 season, his first year with the Lakers. He only missed five games that season, but all of that attributed to a concussion the Lakers say happened after he fell down a a flight of stairs in his home. Otherwise, World Peace played significant portions of the season nursing plantar fasciitis in both of his feet.

“It was hard,” World Peace said. “It hurts. You’re limping.”

Gasol said he has nursed the injury “for a while” but decided to get an MRI Thursday after aggravating it in the Lakers’ loss Wednesday to Denver. Still, Gasol believes he can play through it so long as he stays active with his ice and stretching treatment. Gasol has also worn orthotics and extra padding in his shoe to ensure a stronger arc in his right foot.

Although he predicted Gasol “should be okay,” World Peace anticipated challenging moments ahead.

“Every time you run, it stings,” he said. “It’s not a good feeling. When you warm up and after you play, it should be okay. Waking up in the morning is the worst. You can’t even walk. It takes a couple of minutes to get warm.”

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.co

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Dwight Howard vows to handle his emotions better

Although he surely understands his $19.5 million he’s making this season makes it possible to absorb it, Lakers center Dwight Howard considered the NBA’s $35,000 for committing a flagrant foul type 2 against Denver forward Kenneth Faried excessive.

“It’s a lot for a foul, flagrant foul,” Howard said. “I was happy I didn’t get suspended. That’s the biggest thing. I’m disappointed to be kicked out of the game. That never happened since I’ve been in the NBA.”

Howard then explained how he can avoid such penalties in the future.

“I have to play through it all,” he said. “I can’t allow it to affect me in a negative way to where I’m not playing hard and not doing what I can do and just dominate. When I allow those petty things to get to me, it affects my teammates and we lose games.”

Howard already has “three points” under the NBA’s flagrant foul policy.

Once a player hits six flagrant-foul points, they receive an automatic single-game suspension. Any further flagrant fouls earn a day’s suspension per point.

“I guess I’ve got to foul softer,” Howard said.
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Pau Gasol to play against Portland despite plantar fascittis

Despite nursing plantar fascittis in his right foot, Pau Gasol will play when the Lakers (14-15) host the Portland (14-13) tonight at Staples Center.

Gasol said he has been nursing the injury “for a while,” but he noticed the pain in the arch of his foot increasing in recent days. That’s why he spent the Lakers day off on Thursday seeing foot specialist Dr. Kenneth Jung and receiving an MRI. Gasol said a stress fracture in his left leg that he suffered during the 2003-04 season with the Memphis Grizzlies first stemmed from plantar fasciitis in that foot, causing him to miss 23 games.

“The pain has gone up a little bit,” Gasol said, who added the pain remains the highest in the mornings. “We just wanted to make sure there aren’t any fractures.”

Still, Gasol believes he can play through it.

“So far, we’ve been managing it and keeping it under control,” Gasol said. “Right now, I’m playing tonight. It’s always day by day.”

Gasol will wear orthotics and extra padding in his shoe to support his foot. He also has treated the foot with extra icing and stretching.

“At times it feels better when it warms up,” he said. “When you take off with the right foot and turn into it, it tears into it.”

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said he won’t have any minute restrictions on Gasol, but highlighted it will indirectly affect the rest of the rotation. But it’s likely Antawn Jamison, who hasn’t played in the past four games, won’t have an increased role.
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Jamaal Wilkes reflects on his career and looks ahead to jersey retirement

Below is a hefty portion of my interview with former Laker Jamaal Wilkes, whose No. 52 jersey will be retired tonight during halftime of the Lakers-Trail Blazers game at Staples Center. You can also read my writeup here that appeared in today’s print editions.

What are your sentiments surrounding the jersey retirement ceremony?

I’m very humbled and excited. I don’t think it’s going to hit me until after the ceremony with the magnitude of it. But I’m very much looking forward to it.

What makes it very difficult to fully process this?

It’s kind of like winning a championship. You’re so looking forward to it and everything that goes into it. After it happens, it’s like this is it. The reality hits you. To be the eighth player included with the likes of the players I grew up idolizing, rooted for, players that I played with, the illuminiaries, I just don’t think the full magnitude will hit me after the ceremony.

What are you looking forward to in regards to the ceremony?

It’s going to be brief because there is a game. It’s at halftime of the game. My understanding is it’s going to be five or six minutes. What I’m looking forward to is making my remarks.

What will be the gist of your remarks?

Acknowledging the significance of it and really thanking Dr. Buss and the Buss family, the Lakers organization and really the fans. That’s what drove me. Their appreciation in helping me get in the Hall of Fame is what helped make it happen.

With that happening just a few months ago, this honor and this upcoming honor how have you reflected in the past year on your overall career?

I’m still in the process of doing that. After this ceremony, UCLA is next month and then my high school will be after that. It’s been a real whirlwind. I think it’s a testament to my contributions to different championship organizations and my longevity. I always played with great players. That was part of the criticism, if you will., that some people felt held against me in the Hall of Fame. Plus, I always played in California. I don’t think I was really appreciated by the East Coast establishment. But the fact is I’m in the Hall of Fame now. I think it’s a testament to my high level of contributions. I played with great players who made me better. But I think also made them better. My longevity also contributed to getting in the Hall of Fame.
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NBA fines Dwight Howard $35,000 for flagrant foul

Lakers center Dwight Howard has been fined $35,000 by the NBA for knocking Denver forward Kenneth Faried to the floor in the Lakers’ loss Wednesday to the Nuggets.

Howard, who’s making $19.5 million this season, won’t serve any suspension and will suit up when the Lakers (14-15) host the Portland Trail Blazers (14-13) Friday at Staples Center. Although Kobe Bryant called Howard’s flagrant foul type 2 and immediate ejection the “right call,” the Lakers strongly argued Howard didn’t warrant a suspension.

“I shouldn’t get penalized for fouling somebody hard,” Howard said. “My intentions weren’t to hurt anybody. It was just a hard foul. I’ve been fouled harder and nothing has happened. They can’t put me on a different scale because I’m a strong guy. A foul is a foul.”

The NBA cited Howard’s “excessive contact with Faried above the shoulders” that caused him to fall to the ground with 5:02 left in the third quarter. When Howard was in the air, he pushed Faried’s face.

Howard has collected three flagrant fouls and has accumulated “four points” under the NBA’s flagrant foul policy. Should he earn another flagrant foul type 2, Howard would receive an immediate suspension.

According to the NBA rulebook, the league issues such punishment depending on a number of variables. The NBA measures the severity of the contact, whether it’s considered a “basketball play”, whether the player committed the foul with his arm or hand, the potential for injury, the severity of any injury the offended player suffered and whether it led to an altercation.

Nuggets coach George Karl questioned Howard’s motives.

“I thought [Howard] went intentionally to endanger [Faried],” Karl said. “It looked like [Faried] was pretty stunned after that and I thought it was a good call from where I was.”

Meanwhile, Faried believed Howard’s foul reflected his overall frustration after posting only 15 points on 4-of-6 shooting and seven rebounds. Meanwhile, Faried’s 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting and 15 rebounds far exceeded the Lakers’ energy.

“He was just mad,” Faried said of Howard. “I was getting in his head and he couldn’t get the rebound. He wanted to, but I kept calling every rebound. It’s not like I said anything, or talked to him. I just play.”

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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Pau Gasol has plantar fasciitis in right foot, ‘probable” for Lakers’ game against Portland

After an MRI revealed Lakers forward Pau Gasol has plantar fascitis in his right foot, the Lakers are listing him as “probable” when the Lakers (14-15) host the Portland Trail Blazers (14-13) Friday at Staples Center.

Gasol didn’t report any signs of pain following the Lakers’ 126-114 loss Wednesday to the Denver Nuggets. But the Lakers forward had already dealt with knee tendinitis since the beginning of training camp, an injury that eventually sidelined him for eight consecutive games. Gasol has averaged 12.75 points on 42.2 percent shooting, 8.25 rebounds and 5.5 assists in the past four games since his return.

The Lakers were given the day off of practice, but Gasol spent part of that time getting examined by foot specialist Dr. Kenneth Jung. It’s currently unclear contributed to Gasol’s plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of a tendon within the sole of the foot.

Recently, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni has slotted Metta World Peace and Jordan Hill as the primary backup power forwards. Based on his recent rotations, it’s likely World Peace would get the starting nod should Gasol need to sit out.

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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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Dwight Howard, Steve Nash downplay argument over defensive play

DENVER — The images of Dwight Howard bulldozing defenders and intimidating drivers in the lane has quickly vanished in favor of the Lakers’ center showing agitation.

He winces when a defender blows by him. If he doesn’t receive enough help defense, Howard usually directs his frustration at a teammate. When opposing teams run the pick-and-roll with ease, Howard often throws up his hands in frustration.

Plenty of such sequences happened in the Lakers’ 126-114 loss Wednesday to the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Arena. But there was one particular play that stood out the most.

When Nuggets center JaVale McGee drove down the lane for an uncontested dunk in the first quarter, Howard and Lakers guard Steve Nash openly jawed at each other over the missed assignment.

“I think every single guard and big goes through a pick-and-roll could squabble over it every time the other team scores,” Nash said. “I think that’s more just frustration because neither of us wanted him to score. That kind of stuff should happen. You should be [mad] when the other team scores. That’s healthy.”

It’s debatable whether it’s healthy Howard continued assigning blame to Nash and not himself afterwards.

“He was just explaining what happened, what he thought happened. Everybody makes mistakes,” Howard said. “He just went for the steal and mistimed it, and McGee went behind him and dunked the ball.”
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Lakers argue against Dwight Howard suspension

DENVER — Dwight Howard sat by his locker stall with a stoic expression and a calm demeanor, an image that sharply contrasted to the one that earned him a flagrant foul type 2 and an automatic ejection in the Lakers’ 126-114 loss Wednesday to the Denver Nuggets.

Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried had frustrated the Lakers all game with his hustle, offensive putbacks and ability to slice and dice the Lakers’ non-existent defense. But this time was different. As Faried drove into the lane, Howard threw his hands up, struck his face and caused Faried to fall to the ground with a thud. The referees instantly gave Howard a flagrant foul type 2. After seeing the replay, they immediately ejected Howard as the Lakers trailed 79-72 with 5:02 left in the third quarter. And plenty of the 19,155 fans at Pepsi Center poured out boos at Howard.

Howard looked expressionless as he left the court. He then sounded defiant afterwards.

“It was just a foul,” Howard said. “I’ve been fouled harder than that before and nobody ever has gotten kicked out of the game for it. But I get penalized for fouling people hard. It’s basketball.”

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