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Lakers = M*A*S*H*

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Maybe it’s time to call in a Shaman, or a voodoo priestess with a few live chickens, or go riding down a hill in a beat-up VW van with Hurley from Lost. The Lakers need to do something to break the curse that keeps raining injuries down on them the second half of this season.

After two games where Lamar Odom finally started to look like the aggressive Odom the Lakers patiently have been waiting for, he had his left shoulder bent unnaturally when his shot got blocked late in Friday night’s game against Sacramento. The result was a torn labrum in his shoulder, the same injury to the same shoulder that forced him to have surgery miss the last two months of the 2005 season.

Long-time Laker trainer Gary Vitti has been the busiest guy in the locker room this season. Kobe Bryant missed the first few games and took a while to return to himself after off-season knee surgery. Center Chris Mihm still has yet to play this season after screwing up his ankle last season, Odom already missed a month with a sprained knee, Kwame Brown just returned after missing 24 games with a sprained ankle. Luke Walton is still struggling to come back from his sprained ankle (but likely will be back this week). And let’s not forget Vladimir “half pipe” Radmanovic, who may be done for the season as well.

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All the injuries -– combined with the team’s craptasitc play on defense of late -- has Phil Jackson turning to the veterans on the bench for key minutes. For much of the season Shammond Williams and Aaron McKie had Jack Nicholson-quality seats for Laker games but that was about it. However, in the last four games, they have been the first subs off the bench. They haven’t scored a lot but they have played solid defense and stayed within themselves (meaning they haven’t made a lot of mistakes, something that separates them from the youngsters on the squad).

But neither of those guys can play the power forward spot, a role that before the season the Lakers envisioned Odom and Radmanovic sharing. And unless that voodoo priestess and her chickens can work magic, the loss of those two could mean more losses down the road -- and in the playoffs –- than the Lakers or their fans expected.

AP Photo by Douglas C. Pizac