PHOENIX — The somber tone in Pau Gasol’s voice spoke volumes.
It didn’t just stem from Gasol still processing the Lakers’ 117-90 loss Monday to the Phoenix Suns at U.S. Airways Center. It also showed how Gasol’s still trying to overcome a respiratory issue that sidelined him for a game. Gasol’s 10-point performance on 4-of-12 shooting and four rebounds in 20 minutes against Phoenix reflected his sluggishness. His flushed face and hushed voice revealed his weariness.
“I feel a little better today. I’m still not healthy,” Gasol said. “But I wanted to be with the team and I wanted to play and help as much as I could.”
Gasol couldn’t provide much.
His points mostly came on open dunks. Gasol’s post moves and mid-range jumper both looked off. He rotated slow on defense, including the time Miles Plumlee threw down an alley-oop lob from Eric Bledsoe. Later in the game, Gasol received a bloody gash to his right eye after colliding with Plumlee, a move that didn’t require any stitches. Gasol only played for five minutes, 22 seconds in the second half before sitting out the rest of the way.
“We need him back full strength,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. He’s battling his cold. So there’s no use running him out there when we’re down 20.”
Whether that makes enough of a difference when the Lakers play Christmas Day against the Miami Heat at Staples Center remains to be seen. The Lakers could provide reinforcements with Jordan Farmar’s possible return from a strained left hamstring. But the Lakers still face long-term absences to Kobe Bryant (fractured left knee), Steve Nash (nerve issues in back) and Steve Blake (hyperextended right elbow).
“We have to bring energy and effort,” Gasol said. “That’s what can make up for the absences and injuries here, be on the same page and get to every loose ball, box out and fight the opponent.”
Gasol couldn’t do any of that. And once it was all over, Gasol exited the locker room uncertain if that energy will return after a good night’s sleep.
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