Though a groin injury in recent weeks has worsened enough to keep him active in only part of Fridays’ shootaround, Pau Gasol is expected to play when the Lakers (16-30) host the Charlotte Bobcats (20-27) Friday at Staples Center.
Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni disclosed Gasol is wearing a “device” on his the big toe of his left foot after suffering a moderate strain in that area two weeks ago.
“His toe was causing him to run wrong and he felt it in the groin,” D’Antoni said. “Whatever it is, he should be all right tonight.”
Gasol didn’t speak to reporters on Friday, but he said following Thursday’s practice that the toe injury contributed to the groin injury because he felt forced to compensate.
D’Antoni also said Lakers guard Jodie Meeks will play tonight against Charlotte despite nursing a sore right foot. Meeks has averaged a career-high 14.6 points on 45.4 percent shooting this season because of improved outside shooting, defensive hustle and finishing.
“Jodie has played really well. He’s improved his game and has become a really good basketball player,” D’Antoni said. “He still has to add on his pen court layups. He has to work on that. But he’s become a consistent shooter, consistent defender and a guy who doesn’t make too many mistakes.”
Meanwhile, Gasol has become largely efficient this month, averaging 20.6 points on 50.9 percent shooting 12.1 rebounds in 35.1 minutes per game through 14 contests. That marks a sharp increase from his totals in November (14.9 points on 43 percent shooting and 10.3 rebounds) and December (15.5 points on 46 percent shooting and 7.8 rebounds). Yet, Gasol wasn’t named as a reserve to this year’s All-Star team.
“He’s playing at an All-Star level., but When you’re not in top eight or top nine, numbers don’t mean a lot if you’re not winning,” D’Antoni said. “You have to be careful about putting someone on the All-Star team when you’re not winning, unless you’re in the East probably.”
The Eastern Conference only boasts five teams with winning records, including the Indiana Pacers (35-10), Miami Heat (32-13), Toronto Raptors (24-21), Atlanta Hawks (23-21) and Chicago Bulls (23-22). The lone Western Conference teams without .500 records include the New Orleans Pelicans (19-26), Utah Jazz (16-29), Lakers (16-30) and Sacramento Kings (15-30).
Still, it didn’t help that Gasol suffered inconsistency this season.
“I think he was hurt a little bit,” D’Antoni said. “We had some issues with point guards and issues he had to work through. That’s just the way it went.”
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