Howard sat out a second straight game with an ailing shoulder and World Peace served a one-game suspension for striking a Detroit player on Sunday, but the Lakers survived a tough battle for their third straight win and sixth in seven.
However, the win was tempered by the sight of Gasol limping off the court for good with 3:50 remaining after the Spaniard injured his right foot while trying to block a shot.
"Just as I took off, I felt a pop in the bottom of my foot and I couldn't get up," Gasol, who will have the foot X-rayed on Wednesday, told reporters. "I'm worried about it."
Despite the latest setback, Kobe Bryant scored 21 points, and Steve Nash added 17 and eight assists to help Los Angeles (23-26) break clear of Brooklyn in the final stages.
The Nets led 83-82 with two and a half minutes remaining but the Lakers scored the last 10 points, with point guard Nash assisting on two baskets and adding four straight free throws to put his stamp on the win.
Brook Lopez had 30 points and 11 rebounds for the Nets (28-20), who notched their 10th straight loss to the Lakers.
"To their credit they closed out the game well, but I just feel those two and a half minutes are about as bad as I played on both ends of the floor this season," Lopez said.
Brooklyn last beat Los Angeles in November 2007 and their latest attempt was hampered by their 34 percent shooting accuracy.
Bryant also did not shoot his best, making just 9-of-24 attempts, but he did provide the highlight of the game when he drove the lane in the fourth and threw down a monster dunk between Nets defenders Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries.
The play gave the Lakers an 82-80 edge.
Earl Clark also had a productive night for the Lakers with 14 points and 12 rebounds while Gasol left the contest after scoring 15 points.
Deron Williams tallied 15 points in the loss.