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Injuries mount as Lakers face elimination by Spurs

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 27, 2013 at 6:02 pm •  Published: April 27, 2013

Los Angeles' two-man post game has been remarkably effective in those few, fleeting games when Howard and Gasol have both been healthy this season. D'Antoni knows it's the only choice they've got in Game 4 with their other three regular starters watching in street clothes.

World Peace will join Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks on the Lakers' crowded sideline Sunday. World Peace struggled through the biggest home loss in Los Angeles playoff history Friday night, hours after getting fluid drained from a cyst behind his left knee.

Howard, Gasol, Antawn Jamison and Jordan Hill also are playing through injuries that would keep them out in other circumstances.

"We're wounded, (but) we've just got to stay positive and give ourselves a chance," Gasol said. "It's been really difficult to play at this level of playoff basketball without your roster healthy, without four or five key players in your rotation ... I'm proud of us because we've been fighting so much."

The Lakers realize no NBA team has ever rallied from an 0-3 playoff deficit, and nothing about their patchwork roster suggests this team could be the first. Yet Los Angeles survived its awful start to the season with a consistent, businesslike approach since January, and D'Antoni wants the Lakers to stay focused on the present, however long that might be.

"You can't do something that everybody will talk about if everybody expects you to do it," D'Antoni said. "Nobody expects us to do it. We're going to show up, going to try to do it. Why not? We've got good guys, and they've battled since February to get us in this position. Now we're in another big hole, and we're going to try to dig out little by little."

The Spurs' merciless 120-point performance in Game 3 included 61.2 percent shooting, a 49-35 rebounding edge and even a 7-3 edge in blocked shots. Splitter played nearly 22 minutes before getting injured, and the Spurs will try to fill his minutes with new contributors while doing everything else almost exactly the same way in Game 4.

"They are hurt," Ginobili said. "They are wounded, and we have a great opportunity. When you have a good opportunity, you want to grab it. So we know we're in that spot, but I'm going to say the same I said before Game 3. We've just got to respect them, be humble, play hard. Don't think about anything else but the next quarter, the next minute."