Gasol out, Earl Clark starts against Thunder
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 missed his third game because of a concussion. The Lakers' next game 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."