Archive for the 'Pau Gasol' Category

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Gasol Returning To Form

130410pau_last7After a two-game adjustment period from his 20 games off due to a plantar fasica tear at Brooklyn on Feb. 5, Pau Gasol has played some very good basketball in seven straight games.

After a 22-point, 11-rebound, 4-assist, 3-block effort against the Hornets, he’s averaging 15.4 points, 9.1 boards and 5.3 assists in his last seven. The Spaniard has hit 49 of his 88 shots, from inside and out, which comes out to 55.7 percent, and he’s still not fully healthy. That’s pretty good for a guy still not being featured, as Dwight Howard still gets more post touches, and Kobe Bryant remains the No. 1 Lakers option.

“I’m a lot more comfortable,” Gasol said. “I’m getting better conditioning, a better feel out there. I position myself well better also. It’s just getting to the positions where I’m most effective so I can operate and make plays and prove that it works.”

In the third quarter in Tuesday’s win against New Orleans, Gasol scored eight points during a three-minute span, all coming inside the paint off post-ups. Battling various injuries, Gasol shot a career low 45 percent before the All-Star break, and is at 46 percent on the season. He’s up to 56 percent in the last seven, though, with more than 60 percent of his attempts coming at the rim.

Kobe said this about the teammate that helped him to three consecutive trips to the Finals:

“You’d be hard-pressed to find a big with his skill set in the history of the game,” Bryant said. “With his touch from the outside, posting up, passing the ball, you don’t see that skill set.”

Gasol Nearing Return

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles LakersPau Gasol went through extensive on-court work during practice on Wednesday, again showing progress towards an imminent return.

“I got to play up and down (today),” he said. “First time I got to play up and down since my injury (on Feb. 5 at Brooklyn). I played some 2-on-2’s, 3-on-3’s, (4-on-4’s) and some half court. I felt good. I still feel a little soreness, but it’s part of the process. It’s a matter of feeling confident to be more explosive and make more aggressive moves off of it, so that’ll be a mental thing.”

Gasol, who hit the six-week mark on Tuesday, experienced pain in his right foot after participating in 2-on-2 workouts on Saturday, but an ultrasound revealed “continued healing and improvement.”

“It’s around a three or four,” Gasol said when asked about the pain level in his foot. “It’s manageable right now. Still, when you come off an injury like that, as painful as it was when it happened, you’re still concerned because you still feel something. But as you feel more comfortable, pain does not increase and hopefully decreases, you feel better about it and you’re able to push through it more.”

With Gasol inching closer to seeing the floor, coach Mike D’Antoni acknowledged that he’d eventually start the four-time All-Star alongside Dwight Howard. When that happens, it will be the first time since Jan. 20 that Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Gasol and Howard will start together. In all, that unit has played just 17 games, or a total of 173 minutes.

The 7-foot Spaniard came off the bench in eight games earlier this season, with D’Antoni electing to use Gasol with the second unit. The first-year Lakers coach stated that he went the move because of numerous factors, namely health.

“There were a lot of decisions made when Steve Nash wasn’t 100 percent on the floor, when Dwight Howard wasn’t 100 percent, when Pau wasn’t 100 percent,” he said. “When they’re all 100 percent, it can work. That’s what management and we envisioned. Pau is too talented and too good, Dwight is too talented and too good, Kobe is and Steve is – and you go down the list – not to be able to figure it out, and I think we can.”

Howard’s noticeable improved play (18.8 points, 15.5 rebounds, 3.0 blocks in the last six games) is a sign he’s started to turn a corner. The collective hope from the coaching staff and players will be integrating Gasol back into the mix, and by the time the playoffs roll around, the team will be where it wants to be.

“It will change things up cause we’ll be playing with two big guys instead of spreading the floor,” D’Antoni explained. “There are things we have to work out. We’re looking forward to seeing what we have and seeing if it’s good enough to cause some damage.”

Since the All-Star break, the Lakers have caused some damage, running off an 11-4 record and climbing to the No. 8 seed in the West despite missing 65 total games to the four best players and 37 to backup point guard Steve Blake.

“If our minds and hearts are into it, we can be a heck of a team and we can beat anybody,” Gasol said. “We have too many guys who can put the ball in the hole for us to focus on one or two guys mainly. Once we share the ball and we really want to defend, get back in transition and limit our turnovers, we’re a tough team. We just have to bring it 48 minutes a night. That’s the big difference.”

Injury Update: Pau Gasol

Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles LakersLakers Injury Report sponsored by UCLA Health SystemPau Gasol, who tore his right plantar fascia nearly five-and-a-half weeks ago, has been ruled out of tonight’s game against Sacramento as well as Monday’s game at Phoenix.

“He’ll have three days in between games and then hopefully, he’ll be able to come out (on Friday),” coach Mike D’Antoni explained pregame.

The 7-foot Spaniard did extensive on-court work during the Lakers most recent road trip. The original prognosis was a six to eight week timetable that Gasol was expected to miss. He originally suffered the injury back on Feb. 5 at Brooklyn.

“Until he starts to play and get up and down, you never know,” D’Antoni said. “Whether it’s Friday or not, you just can’t tell. Hopefully Friday, he’ll be cleared.”

Gasol, meanwhile, did not have a timetable and did not target a specific game for his return.

“I don’t want to put any date so there are no surprises or disappointments,” he said.

Kobe Bryant, who severely sprained his ankle at Atlanta, is also battling an illness
and will be out of action tonight as well. It will be the first game missed this year for the 16-year veteran.

Jodie Meeks will start in Bryant’s place.

Injury Update: Pau Gasol

Lakers Injury Report sponsored by UCLA Health SystemLakers center/forward Pau Gasol did his first extensive on-court basketball work on Tuesday morning at the team’s shootaround in advance of the evening’s contest against Orlando.

The plan for Gasol is to go through a similar work out on Wednesday in Atlanta, and if all goes well, do some on-court running on Thursday in Indiana, the third and final stop on the current road trip. Assistant coach Darvin Ham put him through the work out, from which Gasol suffered no setbacks to the torn plantar fascia he originally suffered at Brooklyn on Feb. 5.

The initial prognosis for when he might return was listed as six to eight weeks from the original date, and he’ll hit the six-week mark on Tuesday. The 7-footer will continue to be evaluated on a daily basis; no date has yet been set for a possible return to the court.

Injury Update: Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol spent a few minutes on Tuesday afternoon discussing the impact Dr. Jerry Buss had on the Lakers and what he meant to Gasol in particular, and then briefly addressed the injury to his right foot.

“It’s a thing you take one day at a time and you go with the symptoms and see how well and how quick your body is able to heal a certain injury,” said the Spaniard. “It varies from different individuals, so we’ve made a lot of group progress. I expect to get off crutches very soon and we’re on the right path. That’s all I know right now two weeks into the injury.”

Gasol hurt the foot at Brooklyn on Feb. 5, exactly two weeks ago, and was diagnosed with a tear of the plantar fascia that will keep him out roughly 4-6 more weeks.

Gasol said he hopes to return in the regular season, but is focused on the proverbial “One day at a time” mantra for now.

Injuries in the Front Court

With the news that Pau Gasol suffered a tear of the plantar fascia, the continuation of what’s been somewhat of a Murphy’s Law season for the front court in terms of injuries continued, leaving L.A. unsure of who to expect on the floor.

The team learned that it would be without top reserve big man Jordan Hill for the remainder of the season on Jan. 11, and he’s subsequently undergone surgery on his ailing left hip. Gasol has already missed 13 games with plantar fascia problems in addition to a concussion and knee tendinitis (LAL going 5-8), while Dwight Howard has missed six games (3-3) due to a labrum tear in his right shoulder.

Howard most recently aggravated the shoulder injury he originally suffered on Jan. 4 on Jan. 30 at Phoenix, and has missed the past three games. He did participate in Thursday morning’s shootaround in advance of this evening’s game against Boston, for which he’s considered a game-time decision.

We took a look at how the Lakers have done with and without Howard and Gasol in the line up:

Since the beginning of January, when the Lakers were really struggling at both ends, the team went 3-8 with both in the lineup (3-3 at home; 0-5 away). In those 11 games, Gasol came off the bench in seven contests and started four. LAL averaged 98.1 points per game on 45.4 percent field goals and 32.6 percent from three, with 55.2 rebounds, 22.4 assists and 15.4 turnovers. Opponents averaged 100.7 points on 46.3 percent field goals and 34.2 percent threes, with 48.8 rebounds, 24.1 assists and 10.8 turnovers.
*NOTE: Jordan Hill appeared in three of these games (PHI, @LAC, DEN).

The 3-8 record is a bit misleading, as the Lakers won three of the final four when both started, losing only a Phoenix game they’d led by 13 early in the fourth quarter before Howard went down and missed the final seven minutes. It appeared that they’d finally figured it out, with Gasol dominating opposing second units and Howard anchoring the defense.

L.A. defeated Cleveland & Milwaukee, both at home, rather easily. They averaged 108.5 points per game on 53.6 field goals and 42.6 percent from three, with 43.5 rebounds, 31 assists & 16 turnovers. The two opponents averaged 90.5 ppg on 38.4 percent field goals and 22.4 percent from three, with 46.5 rebounds, 19.5 assists & 14 TO’s. Howard averaged 26.5 points, 15.0 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game in those two.

Of course, Cleveland and Milwaukee are not among the East’s, let alone NBA’s, elite, and the Lakers were desperate for some home wins after a tough road trip and winless month.

L.A. won three consecutive games at Minnesota, Detroit & Brooklyn, all relatively close finishes. The Lakers averaged 100.3 points on 44.7 percent field goals & 32.3 percent from three, with 56.0 rebounds, 23.7 assists and 13.3 turnovers. Opponents averaged just 93.3 points on 41.9 percent field goals and 35.6 percent from three, with 55.0 rebounds, 21.7 assists and 15 turnovers per game.

Gasol averaged 20.0 points, 8.7 boards, 2.3 assists and 1.7 blocks as the feature center, and it’s perhaps the 41.9 percent shooting towards 93.3 points that’s most impressive from L.A.’s defense without Howard, in addition to Metta World Peace missing the Brooklyn game.

The Lakers got crushed in three consecutive games at Houston and San Antonio and vs. Oklahoma City when neither of its two big men played. They averaged 106.0 points on 44.4 percent field goals and 32.6 percent from three, with 49.7 rebounds, 23.3 assists and 12.7 turnovers. The three opponents, who happen to be the NBA’s top three offensive teams, averaged 116.3 points on 51.6 percent field goals and 40.5 percent from three, with 54.0 rebounds, 26.3 assists and 18 turnovers per game.

Clearly, both bigs being out is the scenario the Lakers can ill afford for too long, even as the emergence of Earl Clark will let the purple and gold get away with an ultra small line up at times with Clark at center and Metta World Peace at power forward. Yes, L.A. was only 3-8 when both played in January, but the team was simply playing poorly in general, not sharing the ball on offense or playing hard enough on defense, something that changed after the meeting in Memphis in which most got onto the same page.

Even in a small sample size that makes drawing any grand conclusions difficult, we’ve seen the Lakers figure out how to win with one of their two best bigs out. They’ll be at their best when both return, but in the meantime, it’s up to Clark, MWP, Antawn Jamison and Robert Sacre to pick up the slack, with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Steve Blake – OK, everybody – helping out from the back court.

The Lakers have three more road games to conclude the Grammy trip (@BOS, @CHA, @MIA) before returning home for two games (vs. PHO, vs. LAC) ahead of the All-Star break. Stay tuned.

Jan. 16 Injury Update: Gasol and Blake

The Lakers are getting closer to being at full strength for the first time this season.

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.

Injury Update: Gasol, Hill and Howard

The Lakers went through a tough Texas two-step without their top three big men, as Dwight Howard (shoulder), Pau Gasol (concussion) and Jordan Hill (hip) could only watch losses to Houston and San Antonio.

When will they respectively return?

Gasol saw Dr. Vern Williams on Thursday, and while the Spaniard showed improvement, he is still not cleared to play basketball. Gasol will be examined once again on Friday morning, in advance of the team’s Friday evening home game against Oklahoma City.

Howard told reporters before Tuesday’s game in Houston that he’s hoping to return soon, and will not need surgery, for his shoulder injury. However, the team does not want him to rush back and risk further injury.

“(The doctor) doesn’t want me to continue to aggravate it every night, because that could cause problems later on in the season,” Howard said. “Or it could come to the point where somebody fouled me hard enough and it could (further injure the shoulder), so (we don’t) want that to happen.”

Howard will be re-evaluated next week, but he’s definitely out for Friday’s game against the Thunder.

Jordan Hill will also be re-evaluated early next week after an MRI earlier this week revealed a small tear to the labrum of his left hip. He’ll be treated conservatively, according to the team.

In the meantime, we’ll see more Robert Sacre and Earl Clark, who both offered bright spots on the two-game trip in relief duty. Clark, with his career-high 22 points and 13 rebounds, may have just played his way into the rotation even when all three bigs return.

Dec. 17 Injury Update: Pau Gasol

Pau Gasol, who’s been pained by tendinitis in both knees this season and missed eight straight games, could return in the team’s Tuesday evening game against Charlotte.

“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.

Gasol to Miss 5th Straight

Lakers power forward/center Pau Gasol will miss his fifth consecutive game on Tuesday night at Cleveland.

The Spaniard said he’s feeling better compared to where he was before missing his first game last Tuesday at Houston, but knows it would not be prudent to return too early.

His knees first became problematic in the preseason, but he sat out only one game at the time and tried to push through the pain. However, the effect on his game was obvious, as the career 50+ percent shooter was at a career-low 42 percent from the field. Coach Mike D’Antoni noted that he wasn’t “moving real good,” and was “struggling a little bit physically.”

Gasol missed only one game in both the 2008-09 and 2011-12 seasons, and played all 82 in 2010-11, in addition to playing in all 89 playoff games in purple and gold.

Antawn Jamison started all four games Gasol missed, while Jordan Hill started the second half against Utah in Sunday’s loss. The Lakers will see how Gasol feels in advance of the team’s Thursday game at New York.

L.A. is 1-3 in Gasol’s absence.