USA TODAY Sports

Lakers coming up short for bettors without Gasol, Howard

Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol left Tuesday's victory over the Brooklyn Nets after straining the plantar fascia in his right foot late in the fourth quarter.

That means the Lakers could be without both of their star big men Thursday against the Boston Celtics, as Dwight Howard has missed the past three games with a nagging right shoulder injury.

Gasol, who is “worried” about the extent of the injury, underwent an MRI on the foot Wednesday and has been diagnosed with a tear of the plantar fascia. Doctors are estimating a six to eight week timeline for his return. Howard took the Thursday morning shootaround and is hoping to play.

Los Angeles has finally started to turn the corner on its sub-par season, having won six of its last seven games (4-3 ATS), but the injury to Gasol coupled with Howard’s ailment could be troubling.

Gasol has missed 13 games this season due to tendinitis in both knees and a concussion. The Lakers are 5-8 SU and 6-6-1 ATS in those games with a 5-8 O/U mark. The picture becomes quite grim after examining the betting numbers when both Gasol and Howard are out the lineup. In three games without the big men, the Lakers are 0-3 SU, 1-2 ATS and 0-3 O/U.

So, now the Lakers have two options moving forward. They can play small with forwards Antawn Jamison and Earl Clark, who weighs just 225 pounds, or they can insert the only true big man currently healthy on the roster, Robert Sacre, into the starting lineup. The 7-footer from Gonzaga has struggled in his rookie campaign, averaging eight minutes per game and less than two points and two boards.

The Lake Show has been banished from the Staples Center because of the upcoming Grammy Awards and rolls into Boston, which is dealing with the loss of stud PG Rajon Rondo quite well. Surprisingly, the Celtics are on a 5-0 SU and ATS run since their main man fell to a season-ending ACL injury.

Boston is a 1.5-point favorite Thursday night with the total set at 194.5.

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