Antawn Jamison passes to Pau Gasol. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)
Antawn Jamison will get the start for Pau Gasol on Tuesday night as the Lakers visit the Houston Rockets. Gasol will sit to rest his knees, which have been sore for much of the season (tendinitis).
Jamison has played in all 17 games this season for the Lakers, all off the bench. He's averaged 7.4 points a game on 48% from the field and 30.6% from behind the arc. He's also collected 4.6 boards through 18.9 minutes a game.
In recent games, Jamison's role has increased significantly. Over the previous five, the veteran forward has averaged 28.2 minutes with 16.2 points and 8.6 rebounds while shooting 58.2% from the field and 40.9% from three.
Gasol over the last five has struggled, be it knees or fit in the offense alongside Dwight Howard.
Through 28.8 minutes nightly through that stretch, Gasol averaged 9.2 points and 7.2 boards on 38.1%. He was certainly outplayed over the last five games by Jamison, but then the Lakers only had two victories to show for it.
Gasol has been a better shot-blocker over the season, but over the last five games he has had only one more rejection than Jamison. The biggest difference between the two, outside of size and speed, is in play-making. Gasol averaged 3.4 assists a game over the last five games, while Jamison dished out just three assists total (0.6 on average).
The Lakers will need to replace Jamison's minutes on the bench, which could mean additional minutes for Jordan Hill, especially at center when Dwight Howard is sitting. Robert Sacre, recently recalled from the D-Fenders, could also get minutes.
Hill is a strong rebounder, given his limited minutes (4.6 boards in 14.5 a game), but hasn't shot the ball well (45.1% from the field and 61.5% from the line).
Coach Mike D'Antoni could go many directions at backup power forward in addition to Hill, including Earl Clark, Metta World Peace and Devin Ebanks. D'Antoni has a history of using small forwards or even guards at power positions.
Short term, the Lakers should be able to handle the loss of Gasol. It's still unclear if he’ll be out for just a couple of games or if the Lakers will sit him for an extended period to make sure his knees are truly sound.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.