The Lakers play on Wednesday night at New Orleans and Friday at Oklahoma City on the current 3-game road trip; Gasol is listed as “day-to-day,” so his status for those games has yet to be determined.
Since joining the Lakers in 2008, Gasol has almost always been on the court. He missed only one game in both the 2008-09 and 2011-12 seasons, and played all 82 in 2010-11. Hamstring strains kept him out of 16 games in the 2009-10 season, meaning he started in all but 17 contests in his first four full seasons in purple and gold.
Furthermore, Gasol never missed a playoff game, starting in a total of 89 since the 2007-08 season. And after the 2009-10 (23 playoff games) and 2011-12 campaigns (12), Gasol was the focal point of his Spanish National teams first in the 2010 World Championships and this past summer the 2012 Olympics.
His knees began to bother him in training camp, when he sat out only one game for rest, and have gotten to the point where the Lakers thought it best to give him some rest. Gasol did not play in the final moments of L.A.’s Sunday loss to Orlando primarily because he was not moving well.
“Pau is struggling a little bit physically,” said coach Mike D’Antoni after the game. “His knees are bothering him and I just didn’t see him moving real good. Again, a lot of our offense is spreading the floor and I like Antawn (Jamison) where he is. But I’m not going to go away from Pau. He’ll get better physically, and as soon as he gets over this and that, he’ll be better.”
Averaging a career-low 12.6 points, the most telling statistic was Gasol’s 42 percent shooting, unheard of for a guy who’s never been below 50 percent in his 12-year career. His ability to get up and down the floor was clearly affected, as was his lack of explosion around the rim that saw shots he always hit clank off the front rim. In short, he was not himself on the court, regardless of the system of offense being run.
Jamison is expected to start in Gasol’s place, with Jordan Hill likely coming off the bench. Earl Clark could also see some reserve minutes, depending on the flow of the game.
Meanwhile, Chris Duhon will replace Darius Morris in the starting line up at the point guard slot, potentially taking away some of the ballhandling demands that have been put on Kobe Bryant in the absence of Steve Nash and Steve Blake.