“I’m feeling well, I’m happy with the practice that I did today and how I felt,” he said after his first practice session with the team in two weeks. “We’ll see how I feel tomorrow and decide then.”
Gasol noted that he hasn’t simply been resting, but working with the team’s training staff to strengthen the areas around his knees in order to help him maintain health throughout the season.
“Strengthening everything around (the knees) to make sure they don’t take as much load as they have, and protect them, too,” he explained. “We have therapy, strengthening, conditioning and rest. I can move around much, much better. I can push off my legs and my knees much better, much stronger without pain, so that’s quite an improvement.”
Gasol is officially listed as a game-time decision. The team will certainly welcome his return, as they lost five of the first six games without him before beating Washington and Philadelphia in the last two contests.
Kobe Bryant told media members after the victory at Washington that he expects things to be a lot different once the Spaniard returns.
“When Pau gets back, we’re going to play through him a great deal,” he said. “Probably at the start of the shot clock, we’ll move around the perimeter, this that and the other. Last 10 seconds of the shot clock – when we don’t have anything – we’ll post him up. Then he can make plays and make guys better, which he’s fantastic at.”
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.