After an abbreviated practice session on Wednesday, Pau Gasol (concussion) and Steve Blake (abdomen/groin) took part in a 3-on-3 scrimmage, with Gasol a possibility to return as soon as Thursday against Miami, and Blake out for at least a while longer.
Gasol has missed the team’s last five games since suffering the concussion against Denver on Jan. 6, but has improved in the past few days and passed some of the NBA-mandated concussion tests. He’ll still need to be cleared by Dr. Williams on Thursday prior to the game, but at this point the Spaniard is optimistic.
“I feel better – a lot better, actually,” he said. “I feel 100 percent now. Got a good workout in today and everything felt good. Tomorrow will be a go.”
In his mind, at least, as we’ll remind again that he’ll need final approval from the doctor. Regardless, it’s been a difficult week and change for Gasol, battling his first concussion.
“It’s been a learning experience,” he said. “The struggling of getting up every day and not getting better, constant headaches, being bothered by light or noise and not knowing what the next day will be like or not knowing when you’ll be healthy. You do a little research about concussions and it’s an unfortunate hit, but those can happen any day or any game. If you get concussed the second time, it’s a lot more dangerous.”
He initially failed certain tests, such as card games to see how one’s mind reacts, but finally passed them and thus was able to resume some basketball activity today.
If Gasol does return against the defending NBA champs, that will move Earl Clark to the bench, where his energy and versatility can be a big bonus for the Lakers. Clark actually missed Wednesday’s practice with gastroenteritis, so his status is “questionable” for Thursday.
Otherwise, Blake is the only player on the roster that will still be expected to be out for a few games as he sees how far he can push his abdominal/groin area, and if he can play through the current discomfort he’s feeling.
“Am I going to benefit the team by not playing at 100 percent?, he asked. “If the answer is yes, then I’ll do what I can do play through it. If I can’t, then I’ll sit out.”
It hasn’t been an easy process for the feisty point guard, who hasn’t played since Nov. 11.
“It’s frustrating when you think you’re going to heal and be totally OK, and then take care of one thing, and it just magnifies another issue that I was having,” said Blake. “It’s part of the game, things you have to deal with your body, things are all kind of connected and they go together. You have to deal with it and do what you can.”
Just as the Lakers have throughout an injury-plagued season out of which they’re hoping takes a turn for the positive.