Los Angeles Lakers: Too Injury-Prone to Contend in 2012-13?

The Los Angeles Lakers have some issues.

Some optimism returned this week after the Lakers beat the Oklahoma City Thunder and put together a nice three-game winning streak.

Then Los Angeles started their crucial seven-game road trip with a loss to the Phoenix Suns—a poor way to start out away from Staples Center.

A bigger problem may be that Dwight Howard hurt his shoulder...again.

At this point, the Lakers cannot afford another injury. This roster is not built to withstand the loss of another starter.

According to J.A. Adande of ESPN and others, Howard needs surgery if this injury is going to heal properly.

Howard is trying to get through the season and stay productive. However, if the pain or the risk of long-term injury becomes too great, he may need to be shut down.

Los Angeles has not been a picture of health this season. Through 46 games, a number of players have missed significant time.

Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace have been the healthy warriors, as both starters have played in all 46 games. Unfortunately, those are the only two players on the roster that have played in every game.

How long can the mostly-durable Bryant go at 38.7 minutes per game before he misses time due to a nagging injury? Despite his tenacity, Kobe has only played in all 82 games four times during his 17-year career. Metta has only played 82 games once in 14 years.

Despite struggling with injury, Dwight Howard has started and played in 43 games. Whether he can continue to stay on the floor throughout the season is yet to be determined. But it is not looking good, as he his back issues could flare up at any time.

Most fans are well aware of the other players who have missed significant time.

Pau Gasol, despite his struggles, is still a key part of this team, but he has only played in 33 games. Steve Nash is mostly healthy now, but he has only played in 2...

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