In West, mighty can fall quickly

Times Staff Writer

Another Western Conference contender was hit by an injury, and it wasn’t the Lakers, for once.

The Dallas Mavericks will lose Dirk Nowitzki for at least two weeks because of what the team called a “left lower leg injury,” a diagnosis that made Lakers Coach Phil Jackson wince.

“I think all of us in this race are all holding our breath collectively one game after another because it is so tenuous,” he said. “If ballplayers do go down, it can spell either changing a tremendous amount of position from home court to not home court, or maybe even being bumped out of the playoffs.”


The Lakers, of course, have managed to stay above the Western Conference scrum despite their own spate of injuries.

Pau Gasol will not travel with the team to Oakland for tonight’s game against Golden State, Jackson said, although a return Wednesday against Charlotte or Friday against Memphis appeared possible. Gasol has missed five games because of a sprained left ankle.

Another 7-footer, Chris Mihm, will begin practicing later this week after reporting no pain since having a screw removed last month from his surgically repaired right foot.

“Everything we’ve thrown at it so far, there’s been no swelling and not anywhere near the same irritation and pain I was getting in my heel like it was for the last year after the major reconstruction,” Mihm said.

Andrew Bynum (left knee) is still at least two weeks away from returning, and Trevor Ariza (right foot) is not expected back until the playoffs begin.


There’s no need for back-to-back panic attacks this season.

The Lakers have overcome a problem from years past, compiling a 10-5 record in the second game of back-to-back situations.


The Lakers were 8-9 last season in the second night of back-to-backs and 8-11 in 2005-06.

“We’ve had a great turnaround this year in back-to-back games,” Jackson said. “I think some of it’s conditioning and some of it’s success -- just winning and the momentum itself. I think that the bench support has been a big part of it this year, too.”


Smush Parker, who started in the Lakers’ backcourt for two seasons before signing a free-agent deal last summer with Miami, has resurfaced with the Clippers after a tumultuous ending with the Heat.

Parker’s contract was bought out by the Heat after he got in an altercation with a parking valet. He is averaging 6.2 points and 4.5 assists in six games with the Clippers.

Jackson butted heads with Parker toward the end of last season, but seemed more conciliatory when asked about him recently.

“When he’s on his game, he’s exciting to watch, he’s a great kid to play with, I think, [and] does some things that are spectacular on the floor,” Jackson said. “I hope he rebounds and finds himself again and has an opportunity to play.”


The Lakers wore “Los Lakers” jerseys Sunday against Golden State in recognition of their annual “Fiesta Lakers” celebration earlier in the day.



at Golden State, 7:30, Channel 9

Site -- Oracle Arena.

Radio -- 570, 1330.

Records -- Lakers 48-22, Warriors 43-26.

Record vs. Warriors -- 1-2.

Update -- Tonight marks the fourth and final time the teams play each other in the regular season.