Metta World Peace suspended; Dwight Howard out; Pau Gasol unhappy

Harry How

The Nets quest to beat every losing team they face got a boost early Tuesday afternoon when Dwight Howard said he won't play vs. Brooklyn and the NBA suspended Metta World Peace for one game, taking him out of the picture as well. Meanwhile, the Nets have their own medical issues, with four players listed as doubtful (one), questionable (two) or probable (one).

Howard who showed up with ice wrapped around his shoulder, has been troubled with both back and shoulder troubles. He told Stephen A. Smith in an interview posted Tuesday that even as he was sitting in a chair opposite Smith his leg was numb and he felt pain in his back. Howard underwent back surgery last April. The shoulder sprain has now taken him out two games.

World Peace (aka Ron Artest) was suspended for putting Brandon Knight of the Pistons in a headlock and striking the young Piston during the Lakers last game. The two subtractions means that Pau Gasol, relegated to the bench by Dantoni, is likely to start for L.A. and Earl Clark, a Nets fan growing up in Rahway, NJ, will get a lot more touches. And expect Kobe Bryant to temporarily abandon his new role as distributor.

Bryant, however, is hurting as well. Mark Medina of the L.A. Times reports, "More Lakers bad news: Kobe Bryant said he has elbow tendinitis on right arm. Was wearing a medicine patch to get inflammation out."

Meanwhile, Pau Gasol expressed an interest in being traded this summer if Dwight Howard and Mike Dantoni are still in the employ of the Lakers. He had this exchange with the Los Angeles Times; T.J. Simers...

"If this coach stays and Dwight Howard remains with the Lakers, what about you?"

"It would be hard for me to deal with another season knowing the facts you just mentioned."

"So do you ask for a fresh start elsewhere?"

"It's a possibility, yes."

For the Nets, it's game three of their tough stretch. After being blown out by the Heat and barely beating a depleted Bulls, they play five games in seven days against the Lakers, Pistons, Wizards, Spurs and Pacers. MarShon Brooks (ankle) is doubtful. C.J. Watson (ankle) is probable. Jerry Stackhouse (stiff neck) is a game-time decision as is Andray Blatche, who's ill and was not at shootaround.

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