Pau Gasol playing through tendinitis

Updated: November 27, 2012, 11:14 AM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol has been playing through tendinitis in both knees, a condition that has influenced the four-time All-Star's performance.

"It was just something that started flaring up in the preseason," Gasol told reporters after practice Monday. "I didn't want to stop, and I don't want to stop now. I just don't have that luxury."

The tendinitis is more prevalent in his left knee, but Gasol began wearing straps on both knees this season as a preventive measure. The pounding Gasol's legs took during former coach Mike Brown's lengthy practices may have contributed to the pain's persistence, according to a source with knowledge of Gasol's thinking.

"It's been bothering me for a while, but again, you play through it and try to keep it under control," Gasol said. "It's a little limiting, but it is what it is. There's not much I can do about it."

A 12-year veteran, Gasol said that the tendinitis affects his "explosiveness" as well as his jumping ability, quickness and overall athleticism. He said he did not believe the condition of his knees would cause him to miss any games, however.

"It's been under control, more or less," Gasol said. "Hopefully it won't force me to miss games, unless I feel like my percentage of performance is way down and I just can't do that to myself or to the team."

After a successful summer playing for the Spanish national team at the London Olympics and the sting of being dangled in the failed Chris Paul trade firmly in his rearview mirror, many believed Gasol was in store for a bounceback season in 2012-13.

But that hasn't been the case, as Gasol is putting up career-low numbers in points per game (13.4) and shooting accuracy (43.4 percent), while also having his rebounds (10.4 to 9.1), assists (3.6 to 3.4) and blocks (1.4 to 1.3) per game averages take a dip from last season.

Things came to a head last week when Gasol totaled just eight points and nine rebounds in a loss to Sacramento, followed by six points and four rebounds in a loss to Memphis -- a game in which he was benched during the fourth quarter.

Gasol's conditioning recently was called into question by teammate Kobe Bryant. New coach Mike D'Antoni also was blunt about Gasol's benching, telling reporters he left him on the sideline because he wanted to win the game.

Gasol played in 65 of the Lakers' 66 games last season and all 82 games of 2010-11.

The 32-year-old Gasol played better in the Lakers' win over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, totaling 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting along with nine rebounds and three assists in just 28 minutes.

"It tells me what I know about him," D'Antoni said. "He's a great guy. He's a great competitor. He's got a great career -- he's had one and will have one. I didn't have any doubts.

"It's just a matter of simplifying and getting everybody knowing what we want as coaches and getting all the frustrations out, and he did ... I would have been shocked if he responded in any other way."

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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