The Lakers' Pau Gasol falls to the floor after Denver Nuggets center… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
Earl Clark went from scoring 14 points all season (before Wednesday) to starting for the Lakers and guarding Kevin Durant on Friday.
The fourth-year forward got the nod from Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni after Pau Gasol was not medically cleared to play against Oklahoma City.
Gasol will miss his third game because of a concussion. The Lakers' next game after Oklahoma City is Sunday against Cleveland. Gasol will be reevaluated before then.
Clark had 22 points and 13 rebounds in the Lakers' 108-105 loss Wednesday to San Antonio. He was active and agile, two traits the Lakers have lacked all season.
"Earl's on Durant," D'Antoni said. " 'Earl-sanity,' baby. His feet are good and he played well."
Metta World Peace has a minor groin injury and will start against the slower Serge Ibaka instead of Durant.
"We're trying to save him a [few] minutes off of Durant and not get in foul trouble," D'Antoni said of World Peace. "Earl's the best choice ... we think."
Clark was a throw-in from Orlando in the Dwight Howard trade. He makes $1.2 million this season and is a free agent in July.
The Lakers (15-20) are currently five games behind Denver for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
"I don't have to look to know we're in a heap of ... ," D'Antoni said, his voice trailing off. "Not a good place. As long as mathematically it can be done and it's in our hands, then I'm good."
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