Pau Gasol to play against Bucks
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Pau Gasol underwent a full practice Monday and will play Tuesday against the Milwaukee Bucks after missing three of the Lakers' past five games with an upper respiratory infection.
"I don't think he's over it totally, but it's good enough to play," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said of Gasol's condition.
Gasol said he considered playing Sunday in the Lakers' 111-104 home loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, who entered the contest having lost 13 straight road games, but decided against it.
"I mean, I could have," Gasol said. "I tried and it crossed my mind, but I just get very exhausted and winded when I get my cardio up. So, I just didn't want to have any setbacks and prolong this thing more than it has to. So, I wanted to badly because it was a game that we needed to win. Unfortunately, I wouldn't have been of much use."
Gasol was able to go through weight-training exercises Sunday at the Lakers' practice facility following shootaround but said he was not ready for game action despite the activity.
"It's totally different. I was limited to doing anaerobic work, so basically without getting my cardio up," Gasol said. "I was able to do what the doctor told me to do. I could lift some light weights to keep my muscles loose and somewhat toned, but from there to get up and down and play a basketball game is a different story with the infection that I have."
The Lakers (13-18) are riding a season-high five-game losing streak. After Sunday's loss, Gasol's absence was felt.
"We've had that [thought] the last couple nights, the past couple games," Jodie Meeks said. "It is what it is. Hopefully, he'll be back next game. If not, the guys that are there will play as hard as they can."
D'Antoni was not pleased with any Lakers players calling Gasol into question.
"It's very unfortunate that a teammate would even think about that, much less say it in the media," D'Antoni said. "That's not right. That's definitely wrong. Pau was sick and he's getting better now and he'll be ready [Tuesday]."
Gasol said he wanted to play for the rest of the guys in the locker room.
"My teammates want me to be on the floor and they count on me, so, like I said, I just got to do my best to deliver and be a support for my teammates and make sure we get through these next three games on a positive note and winning," Gasol said. "My goal and our goal is to win these next three, no matter how, no matter what."
The Lakers play Utah on Friday and Denver on Sunday to complete their four-game homestand before going on to play 10 of their next 11 games on the road. Gasol said he suffered from the same respiratory illness at the beginning of the season. It went dormant before coming back full force.
"This time has gotten worse," Gasol said. "The doctors said that I never really got over it. I just got better for a month and then it hit me badly again."
The 13-year veteran said he started to feel the respiratory condition again following the Lakers' 104-91 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 20, in which he had 21 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. Gasol sat out the Lakers' 102-83 road loss to the Golden State Warriors the next day.
"It really hit me hard, and I couldn't move the next day when I was in San Francisco and I had to miss that game," Gasol said.
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He came back to play in the Lakers' next two games, averaging 11.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3 assists in losses to Phoenix and Miami.
"I got worse when I tried to play [those] Phoenix and Miami [games]," Gasol said, adding that he was "exhausted" after the Heat game Christmas Day and did not feel like his defensive effort was up to snuff.
After Gasol consulted with ear, nose and throat specialist Dr. John J. Rehm, he decided to stay back in L.A. for the Lakers' road game against the Utah Jazz on Friday. The Lakers ended up losing 105-103.
"I went into the doctor, and I got checked up and had CT scans, X-rays and all those things," Gasol said. "The doctor said, 'You shouldn't be playing if you want to get over this. It's going to get worse.'"
Gasol said he was diagnosed with a "bad case" of sinusitis and bronchitis, and is on antibiotics to combat it. He estimated he would not be fully healthy "for weeks."
Gasol, who is averaging 14.7 points and 9.4 rebounds with a career-low 44.6 percent shooting this season, expressed frustration with the situation.
"I tried to play through it as much as I can," Gasol said. "I played through it when I first got the respiratory issue earlier in the season, and I was getting killed [in the media] by not performing and all that stuff. So, when you try to play through stuff, you still don't get any credit. And when you don't play through stuff, you still don't get any credit. So you're not getting much credit when things especially aren't working out and the team is losing. So, it is what it is. I'm just trying to do what's best for myself and the team in this case."
Gasol is not the only Lakers player dealing with a physical ailment. Xavier Henry underwent an MRI on his right knee Monday, and the results of the exam showed he has a bone bruise and cartilage damage that the Lakers characterized as an abnormality of the lateral meniscus.
Henry will be sidelined seven to 10 days to rest his knee and then will be re-evaluated. He injured his knee in the first quarter Sunday.
Henry, who has suffered various knee injuries in the past, underwent an MRI on both of his knees Monday.