After visiting with a neurologist for the third time this week surrounding his concussion, Pau Gasol still hasn’t received medical clearance and will sit out tonight when the Lakers (15-20) host the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center.
Gasol will visit neurologist Dr. Vern Williams again tomorrow in hopes to play Sunday when the Lakers host the Cleveland Cavaliers at Staples Center.
Gasol has averaged a career-low 12.8 points and has nursed knee tendinitis and plantar fasciitis in his right foot this season. Will Gasol ever return to full form?
“He’ll have to,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I don’t know if he’s the type or not. It’s tough for anybody not to lay on your back for a week and then come back and play. It won’t be easy.”
In a sign of how desperate the Lakers are to snap a five-game losing streak, they’re also going through various lineup shuffling. After posting a career-high 22 point and 13 rebounds in the Lakers’ loss Wednesday to the San Antonio Spurs, Earl Clark will appear in second start in his four-year NBA career.
“Earl Sanity,” D’Antoni said, a not so subtle comparison to the “Linsanity” he experienced as the former Knicks coach when point guard Jeremy Lin surprisingly lifted the Knicks last season during long-term injuries to starts Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire.
The Lakers will have their hands full against the Thunder (28-8), which lead the Western Conference.
D’Antoni said Clark will guard Thunder forward Kevin Durant. That’s because D’Antoni said Lakers forward Metta World Peace has a groin issue and prefers using the Lakers’ forward in guarding forward Serge Ibaka and center Kendrick Perkins. Second-round draft pick Robert Sacre will start his third consecutive game considering Dwight Howard has been limited to only conditioning drills with strength & conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco while nursing a right shoulder injury. Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant will guard speedy point guard Russell Westbrook, who dropped 33 points int he Lakers’ Dec. 7 loss at Oklahoma City.
The Lakers lost at Houston (Tuesday) and San Antonio (Wednesday) during Gasol’s absence, coinciding with other injuries to Dwight Howard (right shoulder) and Jordan Hill (left hip). Gasol suffered the injury in the Lakers’ loss Sunday to the Denver Nuggets when Denver center JaVale McGee accidentally elbowed him in the nose.
The litany of injuries has made Lakers trainer Gary Vitti rather busy these days.
“If I sat down with Gary, it would’ve taken an hour,” D’Antoni said. “I don’t have an hour to do it. We have to go through a whole litany of people. I haven’t had the time yet. He’ll tell me. I don’t really need to know. I just need to know if he can play tonight. We’re preparing this team to play as well as they can tonight, tomorrow night and every night after. When one guy comes back we’ll insert him in.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org