In the ongoing quest to keep their veteran star players healthy, both Pau Gasol and Steve Nash sat out of Lakers’ practice Tuesday morning that entailed watching film and going over drills without contact. Both Gasol and Nash plan to participate in the evening session, which will consist of a full-court scrimmage with contact.
“They could’ve gone easily,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We didn’t want to bore them.”
In reality, the Lakers are very aware of how injuries played a large part on Nash and Gasol underachieving last season.
Nash missed a combined 32 games because of a fractured left leg at the beginning of the season followed by hamstring and back issues that limited him toward the end. Nash spent all offseason rehabbing those injuries and has said they have fully healed.
“Hopefully he can stay healthy,” D’Antoni said. “The biggest thing last year wasn’t his age and that he wasn’t ready to go. He just broke his leg. He had a hard time getting back after that. When you break your leg, you can’t do your exercises. He spent seven or eight weeks with his back going everything out. He had to get back in NBA shape. This year he’s really healthy, ready to roll and make sure he takes care of himself early.”
Meanwhile, Gasol missed a combined 33 games because of a variety of injuries, including plantar fascia in his right foot, a concussion and knee tendinosis. Those injuries, combined with a reduced role to accommodate Dwight Howard, contributed to Gasol averaging a career-low 13.7 points on 46.6 percent shooting. Through seven games in April, the Lakers’ output from both Howard (21.6 points) and Gasol (17.6 points) represents their highest all season when they played together in the starting lineup.
“I may have needed more time with him to understand what he’s doing,” D’Antoni said of Gasol. PLus he was hurt. And Dwight was hurt. It took a while to figure out how to do it and also for them to get their footing. Once they did, I thought they played really well down the stretch.”
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