Before tonight’s game against the Blazers, Coach Jackson said that Pau Gasol will suit up for the home team, but he won’t know until he steps onto the floor how much he’ll be able to contribute. “It’ll be up to him a lot of it, if he can come back in the game, how we play him…if the substitute that goes in for him plays well,” said Jackson. “But, we’re hoping to play him 16 to 25 minutes…” Jackson also noted that Gasol has looked tentative in practice this week and has yet to “throw himself into it” yet.
Jackson also assessed the current race for MVP, particularly with regards to the Lakers’ own candidate, Kobe Bryant. Jackson said that this was “Kobe’s best year ever as far as being an overall team player. The judgment that I make is how much better do you make your teammates and this has been one of Kobe’s finer years in that regard.” Jackson also said that he thinks Kobe’s best chance at the award prior to this season was in 2005-2006 when he led the league in scoring and scored 81 points in a single game.
Even with Trevor Ariza out with injury, Jackson said he was content with the Lakers’ recent production from the small forward spot. Jackson praised both Luke Walton and Vladimir Radmanovic, both of which had outstanding games against Washington on Sunday night.