PHILADELPHIA — The last time Mike D’Antoni checked, his has nine players healthy on his 15-player roster.
But don’t hold the Lakers toward dressing nine players tonight against the Philadephia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. Plenty of time awats between morning shootaround and tipoff.
“We still have to have lunch so we might lose a couple,” D’Antoni joked. “We don’t know. It depends on what we eat.”
But barring food poisoning, an upset stomach or any conceivable scenario that has plagued the Lakers’ injury-riddled roster this year, they still face some more setbacks.
Lakers forward Nick Young will miss his first game because of a left knee injury. Lakers guard Jordan Farmar will sit out for precautionary measures with his strained left hamstring. Steve Blake remains a game-time decision because of a thigh contusion.
That leaves the Lakers fielding a starting lineup that usually wouldn’t crack an NBA roster.
That includes Steve Nash (future NBA Hall of Famer), Wesley Johnson (considered a draft bust), Ryan Kelly (second-round draft pick), Shawne Willaims (plucked out of the Development League) and Robert Sacre (second-year player).
“You hate it for the guys,” D’Antoni said. “I think we were getting in a pretty nice rhythm and we were playing better the last three halves. Hopefully tonight will be another step forward and we got enough bodies where we should be OK.”
The Lakers barely survived a 119-108 win Wednesday over the Cleveland Cavaliers, despite fielding only five players. Because Steve Nash was penciled out of a back-to-back and Farmar was nursing some soreness in his calf muscles, NBA officials allowed Robert Sacre to stay in the game despite collecting six fouls, a quirk allowed in the NBA rulebook.
“A lot of people were watching and it was a weird, weird scenario,” D’Antoni.
Here’s another weird scenario: the Lakers’ ever revolving list of injuries, causing D’Antoni to juggle weird combinations.
He won’t start Kendall Marshall because he needs him at point guard to limit Steve Nash’s minutes after just recovering from nerve issues in his back. D’Antoni had tried to limit Farmar’s minutes against Cleveland, but in one instant, Johnson was in the bathroom. Williams will also start in his first game despite being waived a little more than a month ago after shooting only 37 percent from the field.
“He just said he made everything down in the D-League, so I don’t know,” D’Antoni said. “He’s got to feel comfortable and he’ll get it. I think he’ll step right in. It’s not like he’s been out for two weeks with an injury. It’s not new. He’ll be fine.”
“Shawne knows what we’re doing. He’s the perfect prototype and he gives us toughness inside that we need. He gives us a little bit more bulk than Ryan can give us and we need that as we want to stay with the floor spread as much as we can and you can do that with Shawne because also, your interior defense is pretty good.”
The Lakers rank 29th out of 30 NBA teams in total defense. The Lakers also have lost 18 of their past 22 games. And yet, the Lakers aren’t feeling down. They’re used to this by now.
“That’s the saving grace that they come into work every day,” D’Antoni said. “They’re trying to get better individually and as a team and they just keep plugging away.”
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