Los Angeles Lakers: Injury News

Nash, Kaman out vs. G.S.; Pau doubtful

April, 10, 2014
Apr 10
5:54
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers will be shorthanded again when they host the Golden State Warriors on Friday.

Not only will the team be missing Kobe Bryant, Xavier Henry and Kent Bazemore -- all of whom had their seasons shut down prematurely because of injuries -- Steve Nash (hamstring), Pau Gasol (vertigo) and Chris Kaman (right calf strain) are all unlikely to play against the Golden State Warriors on Friday.

Nash, who said he was "probably" finished for the season after feeling a "bite" in his hamstring in the Lakers' 145-130 loss to the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, has shown signs of improvement.

"Steve said he feels a lot better," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said after practice Thursday. "I would say doubtful for tomorrow, but maybe for the rest of the year."

The Lakers have three games remaining after Friday -- their final home game Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies, followed by road games Monday in Utah and Wednesday in San Antonio.

Pau Gasol, who told ESPNLosAngeles.com after the Rockets game he was "unlikely" to play again this season, worked out at the practice facility Thursday, and has not been officially ruled out yet.

"He'll play if he can, but he has to be medically cleared," D'Antoni said of Gasol, who has missed seven of the last eight games.

Meanwhile, Kaman has missed the Lakers' last four games after saying he "landed funny" after going airborne in the first half of the Lakers' 124-112 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on April 1.

"I've never really had an injury like this," Kaman said. "I've rolled my ankle and messed my back up, but the calf strain is kind of a weird thing. I'm trying to push myself a little bit, hopefully I can try to play in the last two games. We'll see. I don't know if that's possible or not."

Bazemore to undergo MRI on Monday

April, 6, 2014
Apr 6
4:59
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Lakers guard Kent Bazemore exited the first half of Sunday's 120-97 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers because of a right foot injury and did not return.

X-Rays on Bazemore's foot taken at the arena were negative, however the Lakers are classifying the injury as a right foot sprain and Bazemore will undergo an MRI exam Monday.

Bazemore fell to the floor with 10:03 left in the second quarter. It was a non-contact injury. Aftrer a timeout, Bazemore had to be helped off the floor by teammates Robert Sacre and Jodie Meeks and made his way to the locker room with Lakers trainer Gary Vitti.

"I felt a little pop in it," Bazemore said after the game, noting that he felt a similar sensation when he fractured his left foot before his senior year in college at Old Dominion. "The pop was pretty familiar."

Bazemore had to have a permanent screw placed in his left foot for that injury.

"I was like shocked," Bazemore said. "Like, 'Oh no, not again.' So I just fell and cried a little bit."

The 24-year old, who will become a free agent this summer, said he planned to finish out the Lakers' remaining five games of the season if his MRI comes back clear.

"I'm not in a position where I can afford to miss games," Bazemore said. "If I'm able to go, then you'll definitely see me out there."

(Read full post)

Point guard problems persist for Lakers

March, 23, 2014
Mar 23
12:43
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- On Friday, everything seemed back in order for Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni. Steve Nash was back on the court, running D'Antoni's offense that the two-time league MVP has more than of a decade of experience in orchestrating. Nash picked up 11 assists in 19 minutes, and while the Lakers still lost by 10 to the Washington Wizards, the team had a rhythm to its game that had been lacking in recent weeks.

Two days later, with Nash "doubtful" to play against the Orlando Magic on Sunday, according to D'Antoni, because of a tweaked right hamstring and nerve root irritation. Also, Xavier Henry, who had been providing a penetrator at backup point guard, is out because of a torn ligament in his left wrist.

"Two came back and two left," D'Antoni said, ruefully, of Nash and Henry after shootaround Sunday.

That leaves the Lakers back to one healthy point guard in Kendall Marshall, as a shooting guard in Jodie Meeks and a wing player in Kent Bazemore will be relied upon to handle the backup duties.

"Just figure it out. They’ll have to make plays. Got to share the ball. They’ll run our plays," D'Antoni said. "It won’t be a traditional point guard but that’s no reason why we can’t be good at it."

D'Antoni was trying to make the most of a bad hand, what other choice does he have? In actuality, he knows just how much the point guard position has shot his team in the foot this season.

"That’s probably one of the reasons why it’s hard to get traction, because they’re the heart and soul of your team and they’re kind of doing what you wanted to be done (on the court)," D'Antoni said. "We’ve never really had that from Steve Blake, first getting hurt then leaving, and then X (Henry) trying to fill in, Kobe (Bryant) not being there, Steve Nash not being there all year. So that’s probably been the hardest, most difficult thing.

"And it also affects the other players, their psyche and how they feel. It’s tough without a point guard."

If Nash sits against the Magic, it will be his 58th missed-game this season. It will be Henry's 29th. Before Blake was traded to the Golden State Warriors, he missed 26 games with an elbow injury. Sunday will mark Bryant's 63rd game missed, a number that will rise to 76 by the season's end as he's already been ruled out until 2014-15. And let's not forget Jordan Farmar, who has already missed 32 games and will be out for at least another week with a strained right groin.

The Lakers would be totally rudderless if not for Marshall, called up from the D-League in December and averaging 8.4 points and 9.2 assists on the season. But as solid of a pick-up as Marshall has proved to be, his game has its problems, evidenced by his scoring average dipping to 5.0 points on 31.3 percent shooting in his last 10 games.

"The league is dominated by really good point guards," D'Antoni said. "You got to have one."

The Lakers have had none for the bulk of the season. It shouldn't be surprising the predicament they find themselves in.

Injury update: Young, Hill set to return

March, 20, 2014
Mar 20
3:10
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- After a season ravaged by injuries to the entire roster, the Los Angeles Lakers are finally finding a light at the end of the tunnel.

Both Nick Young and Jordan Hill will both be available to play when the Lakers host the Washington Wizards on Friday, according to coach Mike D'Antoni.

Young has missed 17 of the Lakers' last 18 games because of a non-displaced fracture of the patella and a bone bruise in his left knee. Hill has been out since Feb. 28 with a sore right knee.

Both players underwent three practices with the team this week without a hitch and are ready to return.

"Ain’t too much Swaggy can’t do out there," said Young, who had his last comeback from the knee injury cut short, playing just one game on Feb. 23 before deciding to sit out again. "I feel good. That’s the reason I want to get back out there."

D'Antoni said he expected mixed results from Young.

"He could be rusty," D'Antoni said. "He could be rusty the third game, first game, second game. It could be the second half. Who knows. You play it by ear. As long as you know he's playing well, he'll stay on the floor. If not, we'll sub him in and out. It's good to get him back and get him back in the flow."

Young is the Lakers' second-leading scorer this season, averaging 16.8 points along with 2.7 rebounds and 1.4 assists in just 28.6 minutes per game. Hill was averaging career highs in points (8.2), rebounds (6.8) and field goal percentage (54.0) before his injury.

Young has a player option for next season worth $1.2 million. If he chooses to opt out and can't come to a new agreement with the Lakers, this could be the last 15-game stretch of his career with his hometown team. Hill's Lakers' future is also up in the air as he's one of 11 players on L.A.'s 15-man roster set to become a free agent this summer.

"Just play hard," Young said of his mindset upon his return. "Letting the fans know that I want to be here and I want to do what it takes for me to get some wins, let them see how hard I play."

In other injury news, the Lakers welcomed Steve Nash back to practice Thursday after D'Antoni had initially said last week that Nash would miss the rest of the season because of persistent nerve root irritation.

"He went through all of practice," D'Antoni said, later adding that Thursday was a non-contact practice. "He's a little closer. It's a possibility. We're not saying yay or nay. But we're trying to work him back."

Also, Chris Kaman did not participate in practice and will undergo an MRI on his sore foot. Kaman has not played in the Lakers' last eight games.

Gasol (groin) out; three near return

February, 2, 2014
Feb 2
3:40
PM PT
Shelburne By Ramona Shelburne
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Man down... again! Just when the Los Angeles Lakers thought reinforcements were finally on the way with the imminent returns of Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar, another key player has gone down with an injury. This time it’s Pau Gasol, averaging 20.8 points and 11.9 rebounds in January, who is out for at least a week with a groin injury.

“Just another day here, I guess,” said Blake. “It’s tough. I was looking forward to getting out there with Pau again. He’s our go-to guy right now. So the rest of us have to make up for what he does. We’ll do it as a team.”

Blake and Nash are both hoping to play in Tuesday night’s game in Minnesota. Farmar is believed to be behind both of them in his return timetable. But all three were full participants in Sunday’s practice.

“Every day my arm is getting a little stronger,” said Blake, who has been out since Dec. 10 with a torn ligament in his right elbow. “It’s not completely where I want it to be. There’s still a little bit of pain in my elbow, but my strength is coming back.”

Blake said the primary issue is building back the strength in his arm, which was immobilized for over a month when he was first diagnosed with the injury. He did not have surgery to repair the elbow and doesn’t believe he will need to in the future if he’s able to build back up his strength without any setbacks.

The only time the elbow hurts him is on the follow through of his shot, but he’s learning to ignore that pain and push through it since it will eventually improve and it isn’t likely to get worse.

Playing on Tuesday is only a possibility at this point, however.

“It’s a possibility,” Blake said. “It’s a day-to-day thing for me. Hopefully tomorrow is another good practice and if I wake up Tuesday feeling pretty good, there’s a possibility I’ll play.”

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said that Nash was also trying to come back for Tuesday’s game. He’s been a full participant in two practices this week after working with his private trainer up in Vancouver while the Lakers were away on their annual Grammy road trip.

“He looks good and he feels good, so we’ll see,” D’Antoni said of Nash. “It’s 10 months that he hasn’t played so you know there’s got to be a lot of rust there. He’s just trying to get his legs. From what I’ve seen he’s not shooting the ball as well as usual because he doesn’t have his legs. But that’ll change.”

Asked about the stakes involved in Nash’s latest comeback attempt, D’Antoni acknowledged that the consequences could be serious if Nash is unable to sustain a level of play this time, but this was not the time to worry about it.

“He’s not getting any younger, that’s for sure,” D’Antoni said of the soon-to-be 40-year-old Nash. “That’s always a possibility at this age. But we’ll deal with that.”

Injury update: Johnson, Henry suffer setbacks

October, 6, 2013
10/06/13
10:25
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Wesley Johnson has been a star during Los Angeles Lakers training camp, receiving daily compliments from teammates and the coaching staff in the press. And Xavier Henry, with a combined 44 points in L.A.'s first two preseason games, has been the darling of the early exhibition slate. So it was doubly discouraging to see both players suffer injuries in Sunday's 97-88 preseason loss to the Denver Nuggets.

Johnson left the game in the first quarter because of a strained left foot, finishing with only two points and three rebounds in eight minutes, while shooting 1-for-5 from the field with two turnovers.

"There was some burning sensation in his foot," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We're hoping [it is] not bad."

Johnson has an MRI exam scheduled Monday to examine the injury.

Henry, who scored a team-high 15 points on 4-for-7 shooting and 7-for-9 from the foul line, aggravated the moderate sprain in his right (non-shooting) wrist in the fourth quarter.

"He's had that for a couple weeks," D'Antoni said. "Right before camp opened we were playing a pick-up game and he hurt it."

Henry is with the Lakers on a non-guaranteed, training camp invite and is trying to make the team's 15-man roster.

"He's an NBA player and he's only 22-23 years old," D'Antoni said. "He's shown enough that, yeah, he can play in this league. We'll see what role he can carve out, but I'm really happy right now with his performance."

Jordan Farmar (sore calf) and Chris Kaman (rest) were also held out of the Lakers' lineup Sunday. D'Antoni said both of them would be available for the Lakers' next two preseason games this week against Denver on Tuesday in Ontario, Calif. and the Sacramento Kings on Thursday in Las Vegas.

D'Antoni added that Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, who played Sunday after being given the night off on Saturday, could possibly be held out Thursday.

"We'll see about Thursday," D'Antoni said. "Definitely they'll want to play Tuesday. If we keep [their minute total] in the low 20s and we're not going to practice them in the days in between, that should be OK."

Antawn Jamison practices, expects to play Monday

March, 24, 2013
3/24/13
4:31
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Antawn Jamison was able to participate in non-contact drills during Lakers practice Sunday and despite his sprained right wrist, plans to play against the Golden State Warriors on Monday.

"It will take a lot for me not to be out there," Jamison said. "I should be OK."

A MRI exam taken Saturday revealed Jamison suffered a slight tear in his right wrist in the second half of the Lakers' 103-100 loss to the Washington Wizards on Friday.

"It's sore, but as long as I'm able to shoot it and put it on the ground for one or two dribbles, I should be fine," Jamison said. "It's just the initial shock of it taking place and trying to get over the soreness and the swelling, but nothing is slowing me down. I was able to shoot the ball."

Jamison wore kinesiology tape on his wrist during practice and is treating the injury with ice and electro-stimulation, as well as wearing a brace when he is off the court.

"The one thing I like about it is each day it's feeling a lot better," Jamison said. "I'm able to get the range of motion to go a little bit more and I've played through pain before, so I just think initially these first two road games (in Golden State and Minnesota) I might have to play with a little pain, but after that I should be back to normal."

The 15-year veteran is averaging 9.2 points and 4.7 rebounds this season.

Jamison said the MRI exam also showed he had injured the same wrist earlier in the season unbeknownst to him.

"This is not the first time," Jamison said. "I had some soreness in it a couple of weeks ago. I tried to break my fall and I kind of felt a little bit of tightness, but nothing to the point where it prevented me from lifting weights or even participating in practice. The MRI did show some scar tissue there. This is probably something that happened earlier in the season.

"It's a positive that it has happened before and I was able to still continue to play."

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said Jamison's injury is similar to what Dwight Howard has to play through with a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

"You're always concerned, but if he says he's fine, he's fine," D'Antoni said. "The biggest problem is probably re-injuring it or getting hit again. It will sting -- a little bit like Dwight's injury where there's going to be pain and if he can play with it, or if it doesn't hinder him, then he'll be OK. If not, then he'll have to rest."

The Lakers said Jamison's wrist will be re-evaluated after the season, something the 37-year-old Jamison says will be a measure to try to extend his career.

"The biggest thing is I don't want this to be a problem the last year or two (in the league) I have after this season," Jamison said. "So, I want to make sure I'm healthy. We'll look at it after the season and make sure no further damages have taken place and it's something that won't continue to happen."

Lakers expect three injured starters to play in N.O.

March, 6, 2013
3/06/13
12:29
AM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Los Angeles Lakers might have been able to forget about their loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder as soon as they boarded the plane to fly to New Orleans for a back-to-back Wednesday, but it will be a little harder for their bodies to forget what happened.

Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace all sustained a physical setback in L.A.'s 122-105 loss Tuesday, but all plan to play against the Hornets.

Bryant suffered an ulnar nerve contusion in the first quarter -- aggravating a funny bone injury he has been dealing with for most of the season -- and had to leave the court to receive treatment, before returning to score 30 points on 8-for-19 shooting.

"I just got popped on a nerve," Bryant said. "That's the exact reason why I wear the sleeve is to protect that thing, and I just got popped right on that button."

Bryant initially seemed to hurt the elbow while catching a pass from Steve Nash. The injury flared up several other times throughout the game, such as when Bryant drove to the lane or got his arms tangled up with Thunder center Kendrick Perkins as they jockeyed for a rebound.

"Every time you try to bend your elbow extended with a little resistance, it's a lot of pain," Bryant said.

Bryant was able to keep up his scoring streak, topping 30 points for the fifth time in the past six games, but his efficiency dropped, as he shot just 42.1 percent; he had gone into the contest shooting better than 56 percent over his previous five games.

"You got to adjust your shooting mechanics, and I wasn't able to hold my follow-through too much, but you just got to adjust to it and go from there," Bryant said.

He missed only a couple of minutes of game time, checking out with 8:40 to go in the first quarter and returning with 4:01 remaining, so it's no surprise Bryant will be back in uniform going forward.

"This is a critical part of the season, to say the least, so I'm going to play," Bryant said.

Howard also got hurt in the first quarter, needing the team to call timeout when he aggravated the torn labrum in his right shoulder that has caused him to miss six games already this season.

"It was bugging me the whole game," Howard said.

What also had to bug him was the way the injury happened, as he collided with a teammate by mistake.

"Metta was trying to run through and I was trying to run back, and as he was turning around his momentum pulled my arm all the way back [across my body], and it's been bugging me since," Howard said. "I just played through it as much as I can and I try not to worry about it."

The All-Star center said this aggravation wasn't like the previous two that caused him to miss games, however.

"It was different," Howard said. "The last ones were me going up, but this one just came across my body, so it was a different kind of hit. But I'm just in a lot of pain."

After World Peace unintentionally hurt Howard early, he unintentionally hurt himself late. World Peace scored 10 fourth-quarter points, but he stepped on an opponent's foot and had to exit the game because of his rolled right ankle with 2:24 remaining and the Lakers trailing by nine.

"I did the Harlem Shake, then I twisted my ankle," World Peace joked after the game as his feet and ankles rested in an ice bath. "But it will be OK."

World Peace underwent an X-ray on his right ankle after the game, and it came back inconclusive. He will have further tests Wednesday in New Orleans, even though he said he planned to play.

"It didn't say nothing," World Peace said of the X-ray. "It's probably just sore."

World Peace seemed shocked to hear that he was the cause of Howard's pain, but was confident he and his teammates would conquer their various maladies.

"Oh, that sucks," World Peace said when informed of the pain in Howard's shoulder. "He's OK? I didn't see him since it happened, but we should be OK, though."

Pau Gasol on track for return

February, 19, 2013
2/19/13
7:08
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Pau Gasol said Tuesday he is hopeful he will be able to return this season from the torn plantar fascia injury to his right foot.

"I hope," Gasol said after using crutches to make his way around the Lakers' practice facility on the team's first day back to work after the All-Star break. "It’s a thing that you take one day at a time, and you go with the symptoms and see how well and how quick your body is able to heal.

"A certain injury varies from different individuals, so we’ve made a lot of good progress. I’m expecting to get off those crutches very soon, and we’re in the right path. That’s all I know right now two weeks into the injury."

Gasol suffered the injury in the Lakers' 92-83 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Feb. 5. The 12-year veteran, who was averaging 13.4 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists before going down with the injury, was initially expected to be out 6-8 weeks.

If Gasol is able to return on the short end of that time frame, he could be back in the lineup when L.A. hosts the Washington Wizards on March 22 and for the final 13 games of the Lakers' season at that point.

The Lakers have gone just 2-3 since Gasol's injury.

Despite Gasol's injury and Jordan Hill's season-ending hip surgery, Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said the team has enough talent to stand pat as Thursday's NBA trade deadline approaches.

"We have the pieces," D'Antoni said. "It’s just not fitting together. It’s a little frustrating right now … I remain convinced that we have enough to do something right now and be pretty good."

Hits keep on coming for Lakers

February, 6, 2013
2/06/13
4:28
PM PT
Shelburne By Ramona Shelburne
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Geez. Again?

It just keeps raining on the Los Angeles Lakers this season. Wednesday's news that Pau Gasol had indeed torn the facia in his right foot and will be out at least four weeks is just the latest cold front to blow through town.

From the jump it seems as if the Lakers have been snakebit. First Steve Blake stepped on a metal grate and punctured his foot right before camp, then Kobe Bryant hurt his foot and missed half the exhibition games, then Steve Nash broke his leg in the second game of the year, then Blake suffered an abdominal injury that kept him out for months.

Heck, the Lakers couldn't even hire a coach who was healthy as Mike D'Antoni was heavily medicated for his first two weeks on the job as he recovered from knee surgery.

By the time Gasol went down because of a hamstring injury, Jordan Hill was lost for the season because of a hip injury, Dwight Howard tore the labrum in his shoulder and Gasol suffered a concussion, Lakers fans had grown weary of injury news.

But the hits just keep on coming. So often, and so much so, that you almost have to laugh to keep from crying.

What makes this latest development so difficult to digest is that it comes at a time when the Lakers had finally started looking like the fearsome, overly-talented team people thought would roll through the league when it was first assembled over the summer. Their 92-83 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday night was one of their best of the season, and marked their sixth win in seven games.

But alas, there was no glow to bask in after the game. Just another ice bath of bad news.

Kobe "85 percent" sure he'll play in opener

October, 30, 2012
10/30/12
1:27
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Dave McMenamin has the news.

Kobe Bryant participated fully in shootaround Tuesday morning, and unless his strained right foot acts up in the interim he'll suit up for tonight's season opener against Dallas.

Very good news for the Lakers, both in terms of the game itself and as an indication of how his strained right foot is healing after a week on the shelf.

Dwight Howard eyes Sunday return

October, 19, 2012
10/19/12
7:17
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Read all about it here.

While it would be great to get a couple runs in before the real games start, the significance isn't necessarily whether Dwight Howard returns for the team's sixth preseason tilt (at Staples against Sacramento), or the seventh, or the eighth. It's another in a series of maraging steel-strong signals he'll be able to play in the season opener on October 30th, and do so without restrictions in playing time or threats to his long term health.

The writing has been on the wall for a little while now, but keep in mind none of this was guaranteed when the Lakers made the big trade in August.

 


Andrew Bynum called "day-to-day" with ankle sprain

April, 2, 2012
4/02/12
6:10
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Good news out of El Segundo Monday afternoon. Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who left Sunday's win over the Warriors with 1:51 to play in the first quarter after landing on teammate Josh McRoberts' foot and rolling his left ankle, will be listed as "day-to-day" ahead of tomorrow's game at Staples against New Jersey.

Bynum spent the day with Gary Vitti getting treatment, but didn't require an MRI for what was called a "moderate" sprain during yesterday's game.

Whether he plays against the Nets or not -- if there's any question, he ought to sit -- it seems unlikely he'll miss extended time, obviously something the Lakers can't afford.

Chat transcript!

February, 29, 2012
2/29/12
8:58
AM PT
By the Kamenetzky Brothers
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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The Lakers are about to kick off the second half, which means plenty of action in the room. Among the talking points were Kobe Bryant's concussion, trade scenarios and Andrew Bynum's knee.

Here is the link to the chat.

The McTen: Gasol's dagger 3 jolts Jazz

January, 11, 2012
1/11/12
11:51
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Pau Gasol AP Photo/Jim Urquhart Pau Gasol's 3-pointer in overtime proved to be one of the keys down the stretch for the Lakers.

Here are your 10 additional things to take away from the Lakers' 90-87 overtime road win against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday ...

1
At 7 feet, 250 pounds and one of a dying breed of true back-to-the-basket post players in the league, Pau Gasol has been relegated to the paint for most of his 11-year career.

When he dared dabble out on the perimeter the results haven't been pretty. Sure, he proved he could hit a 3-pointer in a pressure-cooker situation with that triple he connected on in the fourth quarter of Game 3 of the first round against New Orleans last spring, but he also infamously missed a potential winning 3-pointer at the buzzer that Phil Jackson had drawn up for him in a game against Portland a few seasons back and had just a 19-for-88 career mark from downtown.

That all went out the window with 2:02 remaining in OT Wednesday when Kobe Bryant sucked in the defense at passed out to a wide-open Gasol who was parked in the corner and calmly splashed the 3 to turn a two-point deficit into a one-point lead for L.A.

"I’m just glad that he found me and I was [shooting] with confidence and I practiced that shot enough that I can make it," said Gasol who had hit a 3-pointer in the preseason against the Clippers but started off the regular season 0-for-3 from deep. "I was also happy that I made it because I did not have a good game overall, so it was a big play for the team to make and I was happy I was able to score and knock it down basically."

Gasol finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, but had five turnovers, including two early in the extra period that led to the Jazz opening up a four-point lead.

Lakers coach Mike Brown said Gasol has "a green light to shoot the 3," and added, "as you could tell, guys trust him [shooting it]," but it wasn't such and easy decision for Bryant to cough it up.

"Coach [John] Kuester’s been urging me to trust him at the 3-point line, because he’s statistically one of our better 3-point shooters in practice and I decided to kick it to him and he knocked it down," Bryant said. "I thought about it [for what] seemed like an eternity and I thought, ‘What the hell.’"

After the pass, Bryant's thoughts shifted to the heavens.

"If you think [Tim] Tebow prays, when that ball left his hands I must have said 30 Hail Mary’s in 10 seconds," Bryant said.

Gasol made it clear that he's not going to go all Dirk Nowitzki all of the sudden and start using his 7-foot frame to launch from beyond the arc with regularity, but he said he wants to test his range from game to game to see if he's feeling it from deep on that particular night.

"That won’t be the focus of my game, at all," Gasol said. "It will just be another weapon, another thing to add up to it."

Brown seems to be endorsing the option.

"He can shoot that thing," Brown said. "He can shoot it very well."

(Read full post)

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
25.2 4.8 1.4 35.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.6
AssistsK. Bryant 4.8
StealsK. Bryant 1.4
BlocksE. Davis 1.2