Lakers forward Pau Gasol will receive an MRI on his sore left foot, leaving the possibility open that he won’t suit up Tuesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Staples Center.
Gasol is believed to have injured his foot at some point during the Lakers’ loss Friday to the Clippers in a designated road game at Staples Center. That development, coupled with Xavier Henry planning to be reevaluated Tuesday on the bone bruise in his left knee, left the Lakers looking like they were about to play pick-up basketball Monday instead of actually practicing.
With long-term injuries to Kobe Bryant (left knee), Steve Nash (back), Steve Blake (hyperextended right elbow) and Jordan Farmar (left hamstring), the Lakers dressed only eight players at practice. That included Nick Young, Jordan Hill, Wesley Johnson, Chris Kaman, Ryan Kelly, Jodie Meeks, Robert Sacre and Kendall Marshall. The Lakers’ roster remains so depleted that Lakers assistant coach Larry Lewis, player development coach Mark Madsen and video coordinator J.J. Outlaw were expected to participate.
Gasol’s latest injury leaves the Lakers without a player Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni had described as their leader moments before the team learned about his setback.
“I don’t think we’re fragmented,” D’Antoni said. “It would be different if we were selfish. Everybody is trying to pull away. To me that’s not a problem we have if we’re leaderless or rudderless. They’re trying and going in the right direction and trying to do the right thing. We’re just shorthanded and overmatched sometimes, quite frankly. The biggest thing is the leader that Pau is keeps everybody’s spirits up and stays positive and comes to work every day and tries to put a good foot forward.”
Gasol has suffered a variety of ailments this season that has contributed toward averaging 15.6 points on a career-low 44.8 percent shooting. He had missed three games last night because of an upper respiratory infection. He had also been slowed earlier this season by a mildly sprained right ankle and poor conditioning stemmed from an offeseason procedure to treat tendonosis in both of his knees.
The Lakers (14-23) enters Tuesday’s game against Cleveland (13-24) losing 10 of their last 11 games. They went through a similar situation last year where the Lakers went 19-23 through late January amid overlapping injuries and a toxic locker room. But they closed out the season 28-12 and earned a seventh seed in the playoffs before losing to San Antonio in the first round.
“Last year we had some injuries, but the guys were playing with it, Dwight especially,” said D’Antoni. “Steve was out almost the whole year. We had Kobe last year playing too many minutes, but you had him as a constant so we were able to withstand it. This year ,the injuries took out some heart and some fo the guys and we haven’t been able to overcome it.”
That’s caused the Lakers to look noticeably frustrated lately, but Young posted a picture of himself wearing a Magic Johnson jersey and asked for patience from a restless fan base.
“We’re still the Lakers and will come out and fight each night. We’l turn things around,” Young said. “Stick with it. It’s like relationships. Not everything is perfect in a relationship. Sometimes my girl’s getting on my nerves and I won’t leave her when she’s not cooking me a nice meal.”
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