Jan 14, 2013, 9:22 PM EDT
Earl Clark was supposed to be nothing more than an afterthought for the Lakers this season. But a concussion to starting power forward Pau Gasol has opened the door for Clark to contribute, and he’s made more than expected of his opportunity thus far.
Clark was a throw-in as part of the trade that brought Dwight Howard to L.A. from Orlando over the summer, and had been treated like it by the Lakers coaching staff until they absolutely didn’t have a choice. Clark appeared in just 10 of L.A.’s first 33 games this season, and logged single digits in minutes in all but one of those contests.
In the last four games, however, Clark has been pressed into action — primarily due to Gasol’s absence, but also due to Jordan Hill being out for the rest of the season due to a hip injury. Clark hasn’t disappointed, averaging 10.4 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.4 blocked shots in 24.2 minutes of action.
Clark has been even more impressive over his last two games, getting the starter’s minutes in place of Gasol, and finished with 13 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and three blocked shots in the Lakers win over the Cavaliers on Sunday, the team’s first in its last seven games.
It isn’t just the numbers that have been impressive about Clark, it’s the way he’s developed into an athletic and intelligent NBA player, seemingly knowing when to pick his spots and playing with the right amount of energy on virtually every possession.
It didn’t always come that easily to Clark, and in fact, he struggled to develop at all in his first season and part of a second while playing for the Suns. Those were winning years in Phoenix, and the team didn’t need any help inside with Amar’e Stoudemire, Robin Lopez, Channing Frye, and Lou Amundson giving them more than enough of an inside presence, especially during Clark’s rookie season that resulted in a run to the Western Conference finals.
Clark’s minutes were limited, and he was being groomed to be more of a pick-and-pop player than he was trained to battle inside. He struggled to come along, and ended up being traded to the Magic as part of the deal that brought Marcin Gortat, Vince Carter and Hedo Turkoglu to Phoenix the following season.
Alvin Gentry spoke a bit about Clark before Monday night’s game against the Thunder, and more than anything, he seemed happy that Clark was performing while getting his shot.
“I think it’s great to see him take advantage of an opportunity to play,” Gentry said. “He’s done a good job, put up some good numbers, and rebounded the ball well. I think that’s what you have to do. If you get a chance to play and you’re given an opportunity, you’ve got to take advantage of it so that at least it’s in the back of someone’s mind.”
As for Clark coming on after three seasons, Gentry pointed to some other players you might have heard of that took a little time before coming into their own.
“It’s been that way forever in this league,” Gentry said, when asked if some players just need more time to develop than others. “Steve Nash took a little while to develop, too. There’s been other guys that have been OK and then all of a sudden after their second or third years been able to become real solid NBA basketball players. I think you can look at Paul George, he’s been a decent player but all of a sudden now you watch him play and I think you can make a strong argument for him being the most improved player in the league.”
Clark will get at least one more game with heavy minutes as a member of the starting lineup, as Gasol will miss his fifth straight game due to the concussion when the Lakers host the Bucks on Tuesday. He’s likely to remain in the rotation even after Gasol returns, largely due to the way he’s made an impact with the opportunity he’s been given.
Mar 17, 2014, 10:51 AM EDT
Anthony Davis was a beast Sunday night as New Orleans hosted Boston. He had 40 points on 22 shots, including a key free throw line jumper that looked like it might be a game winner (you can see that below, it looked like the game winner until Kris Humphries tied it up again… yes, Kris…
Mar 17, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT
Rodney Hood transferred to Duke from Mississippi State seeking a fresh start. The move worked so well, he’ll probably start anew in another league next season. At least that’s what his coach, who’d be in position to know, expects. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, via Daniel Carp of The Chronicle: “I wish we had him for…
Mar 17, 2014, 9:15 AM EDT
The 2012 draft already looks like it will go down as one of the NBA’s stronger ones ever. Andre Drummond is incredibly promising. Damian Lillard won Rookie of the Year and is even better this season. But there’s no doubt, if the draft were re-done, Anthony Davis would remain the No. 1 pick. Days like…
Mar 17, 2014, 8:44 AM EDT
Stephen Curry is just fun to watch. He and Klay Thompson were making it rain in the fourth quarter (each had 15 points in the frame) and while we all focused on the Thompson three that was the game winner there was also this impressive play. Curry crossed up Mathews pretty fierce. When the Warriors…
Mar 17, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
This season in the NBA, slightly more than one in four shots taken is a three. Even though you know that’s the way the league is going, the number is kind of stunning. And yes, it is a record. It’s also just the start. The NBA stole the three point line from the ABA and…
Mar 17, 2014, 3:00 AM EDT
The Cleveland Cavaliers made the playoff their firm goal, started poorly, traded for Luol Deng, fired their general manager, re-affirmed their playoff priority and backed it up by trading for Spencer Hawes. By winning the first two games of their current road trip – at Phoenix, at Golden State – the Cavaliers finally looked like…
Mar 17, 2014, 2:57 AM EDT
Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while watching the King of the Hill/True Detective mashup… Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors. Early in the third quarter Houston took an 18 point lead over Golden State and seemed to be in complete control. Then the shots from Warriors backcourt started to…
Mar 17, 2014, 1:00 AM EDT
Golden State and Portland are in the packed middle of the Western Conference playoff race, coming into the game the Warriors were the six seed, 2.5 games back of the Trail Blazers. Both teams needed a win and this game had a real playoff feel, with the Trail Blazers leading by 18 and the Warriors…
Mar 16, 2014, 10:30 PM EDT
The Cavaliers have made quite a mess out of this season. They attempted to compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by adding free agents in Jarrett Jack, Earl Clark and Andrew Bynum, but none of them had anywhere near the desired impact. Bynum has since been traded, and Luol Deng was brought…
Mar 16, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT
DeMar DeRozan expressed his displeasure over a non-call by kicking the ball away from a referee — a move which guaranteed him a quick whistle in the form of a technical foul.
Mar 16, 2014, 7:41 PM EDT
Midway through the third quarter you had to like how the Rockets were playing against the Heat in Miami. Tied 92-92, the Rockets got what seemed like their 5,347th floater in the lane of the night, this time it was Chandler Parsons over Chris Andersen. The Rockets players did not fear the Heat shot blockers…
Mar 16, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT
Patrick Beverley leaves LeBron James in the dust, before attacking the rim and throwing down a huge slam on Chris Bosh.
Mar 16, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT
LeBron takes a nice pass from Wade and elevates over Dwight Howard for the vicious first quarter slam.
Mar 16, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
Jarrett Jack believes custom fitting players with the sleeved jerseys would reduce the complaints. But he still doesn’t like the way they look, regardless of how they do or do not impact performance. “We’re like the Beach Police,” Jack said.
Mar 16, 2014, 2:01 PM EDT
How I wish “Brian” were real. Alas, this is a faux documentary on former NBA player Brian Scalabrine is not real. Still, the trailer is brilliant. An actual documentary following Scalabrine, now an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors, would be interesting. He’s long been one of the better interviews around the NBA, his…
Mar 16, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
Jim Cleamons is currently an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks, but he was a member of Phil Jackson’s coaching staff both in Chicago and Los Angeles, and has nine championship rings to show for it. The Bucks happened to be in town to face the Knicks on Saturday, just one day after the news…
Mar 16, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
Doc Rivers, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan all recently explained why they’re against the NBA raising its age limit. But there are valid reasons on the argument’s other side.
Mar 16, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
John Wall splits two defenders near mid-court before putting the exclamation point on a win over the Nets with a thunderous slam.
Mar 16, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
The Sixers are currently riding a 20-game losing streak, but for better or for worse, no one inside the Philadelphia organization is deluding themselves as to what’s going on there this season. Call it tanking, or as the NBA’s new commissioner Adam Silver prefers, rebuilding. But either way, there’s going to be a whole lot…
Mar 15, 2014, 10:30 PM EDT
There are plenty of players who make exaggerated vocal noise during the course of an NBA game, with Carlos Boozer of the Bulls perhaps heading up that very long list. While it’s accepted to a certain extent, it’s also nice to see a veteran of the game point out just how ridiculous it is. During…
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