With Pau Gasol back in the lineup, the Lakers are taller, slower and more vulnerable.
Gasol, who was out for over six weeks with a foot injury, is still working his way back into shape, but some of the initial problems that plagued the Lakers persist. Coach Mike D'Antoni benched Gasol for Earl Clark to give the Lakers a more athletic starting lineup.
The change in continuity has contributed to a three-game losing streak.
Integrating Gasol properly with center Dwight Howard is the goal over the final stretch but it may also be what derails the Lakers' playoff hopes.
"Mike’s early reviews of Gasol were skeptical, to say the least, but he continues to start him … possibly at the suggestion of management, to see what they have before thinking about trading Pau," writes former Times columnist Mark Heisler for LakersNation.com