Before tonight’s game against the Warriors, Coach Jackson said that the team probably will not take Gasol with them for tomorrow night’s back-to-back affair against Golden State, but hopefully he’ll be able to get on the court this week, with hopes that he’ll be able to return on Friday against Memphis.
Once Gasol and Andrew Bynum return from injury, Jackson said he expects an adjustment period before the two can play with maximum efficiency with one another. Jackson said that the acclimation process will be, “No problem with Gasol. Playing with both Bynum and Gasol will probably take a little bit.” According to the Lakers coach, there may be some initial confusion about defensive assignments and rebounding.
With the Western Conference race so tight heading toward the postseason, Jackson said that the increased competition will certainly keep teams sharp down the final stretch, but the Lakers will still have to step it up a notch once the playoffs begin. “You always have to have an extra gear in the playoffs,” Jackson said. “There’s a step up of energy, execution, physicality because you don’t play back-to-back so you can catch an extra breath in between games.”
Jackson also addressed the role that injuries continue to play in determining positioning in the West. Although Dallas lost Dirk Nowitzki to injury for at least two weeks today, the Lakers coach said that he still expects them to play at a high level thanks to the solid backup play of Brandon Bass and Deavean George. Jackson related the Mav’s unfortunate turn of events to the Rockets’ loss of Yao Ming for the season; for Houston, an injury to their superstar player forced the Rockets to come together as a team, propelling them to a 22-game winning streak.