Earl Clark rediscovering his niche

The Legend of Earl just completed a new chapter.

It came in the form of Earl Clark rediscovering his niche for the Lakers after his surprising emergence then followed with him hitting a wall.

Don’t look now, but Clark has posted two consecutive double-digit performances. His 17 points in the Lakers win Tuesday over Dallas marked his highest scoring output in two months. Clark grabbed 12 rebounds against the Mavericks, his highest total in over a month. He also recorded a career-high five blocks. But his most memorable one happened when he raced from one end of the court to another to stuff Quincy Pondexter early in the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ win Friday over Memphis.

“I didn’t want him to get an easy basket,” Clark said. “I tried to time it. My mindset was to go and get it. I’m a shot blocker. Sometiesm you win and sometimes you lose. I got a good block.”

The play looked pretty enough for Clark’s dad to send him a few pictures of his block. Clark may want to avoid looking at photos, though, surrounding his botched fast-break moments earlier.

Clark nearly fumbled the ball on a wide-open drive only to be awarded two free throws after Jerryd Bayless fouled him.

“I got too excited. I thought about dunking before I did it so I lost sight of the ball and then I lost it and got it back,” Clark said. “I’m glad Bayless fouled me because I probably would have missed the layup. It’s been a while I got a fast break like that. So I got excited.”

Clark didn’t always have that kind of energy.

After setting career-highs in games (53) and minutes played (23.2), Clark logged double digits in only nine of the past 10 games prior to this week. Meanwhile, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni favored Pau Gasol to start following his return from a right foot injury that sidelined him for 20 games because of his superior understanding of the offense and his stronger experience. D’Antoni also believed Clark showed signs of fatigue.

“I wasn’t digging deep enough when I felt my legs were tired,” Clark said. “I had to continue to play. I didn’t notice it. But all my teammates and coaches said the energy wasn’t there. So I just had to pick it up and that’s what I’m trying to do.”


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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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