The Lakers haven’t quite reached “Earl Sanity.” But Earl Clark’s three-game stint in the Lakers’ rotation has impressed coach Mike D’Antoni so much that he plans to feature him off the bench even when Pau Gasol returns from a concussion.
“He’s going to play,” D’Antoni said.
The possibilities sound endless. D’Antoni touted Clark’s “unique talents” for his ability to play at center, power forward and small forward. Even though Clark is 6-10, D’Antoni said he may also defend point guards because of his speed. Clark will make his second consecutive start when the Lakers (15-21) host the Cleveland Cavaliers (9-29) Sunday at Staples Center should Gasol fail to receive medical clearance for his concussion.
“That sounds great to me,” said Clark, who’s averaged nine points and 10.67 rebounds per game in the last three contests. “I want to help the team win. I love to play. if he puts me out there, I’ll continue to keep doing what I’ve been doing. I’m leaving it all out there.”
Yup, Clark has come a long way since the Lakers saw him as merely a throw-in in the trade that brought Dwight Howard here from the Orlando Magic this offseason. Clark had only played in 10 other games in garbage time before his latest stint.
But he apparently experienced an unexpected learning curve.
“At the end of the first quarter, he thought it was halftime and he ran off the floor,” D’Antoni said. “I don’t know if you all noticed that or not. It was great. Once he gets his quarters down right, he has some NBA talents that I think we can really use.”
When told of D’Antoni’s revelation, Clark laughed.
“I had to go to the bathroom,” Clark said. “He’s just joking with me. You have to smile in times like this.”
The Lakers may be doing this because they lost six consecutive games for the first time since 2007. Clark’ doing this because he’s playing.