- Dave McMenamin, ESPN Staff Writer
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"The biggest thing with him was that he was playing hurt and in this league, you just can't do that," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "I just didn't think he was running fluidly."
D'Antoni said Gasol made the decision to rest after consulting with the coaching and training staff. There is no set timetable for how long Gasol will be out. Antawn Jamison will start in his place.
"We got to get him healthy," D'Antoni said. "Whatever it takes -- one game, two games, 10 games -- I don't know. It's day to day but he's got to be healthy. It wasn't fair (to him). He's trying to battle through some stuff and in this league, you just can't do that."
While Gasol's injury is listed by the team as tendinitis, he told reporters that it could be tendinosis, a chronic form of tendinitis, that is limiting him. He is considering undergoing an MRI on both of his knees when the team returns to L.A. this weekend.
Their game against the Rockets is the start of a particularly tough stretch for the Lakers -- eight of their next 10 are on the road. L.A. is 1-4 away from Staples Center this season.
Gasol said he would definitely miss Wednesday's game against the New Orleans Hornets and intimated that it was unlikely he would be available Friday in Oklahoma City or Sunday at home against the Utah Jazz, as well.
"It's something that's hard to predict because you just got to let it calm down," Gasol said before the Rockets game Tuesday. "So, until I feel like I can be out there playing close to 100 percent or at 100 percent, the team doesn't deserve any less, I don't deserve any less to be out there performing at my best and that's what I'll try to do."
The Lakers called up rookie big man Robert Sacre from the Los Angeles D-Fenders, their D-League affiliate, Monday as big-man insurance for their bench. Forward Jordan Hill, who sat out the Lakers' last game as a coaches' decision, could also find minutes in the rotation.
"Somebody's woe is somebody's gain and they got to take advantage of it," D'Antoni said.
Kobe Bryant said he could relate to Gasol's struggles, telling reporters after Tuesday's shootaround that he had to make a similar decision to sit out late last season when tenosynovitis in his left shin caused him to miss seven games.
"We talked about it a little bit," Bryant said. "It's difficult for him, obviously, because he doesn't have the explosiveness that he had, so a lot of it I'm assuming has to do with his being injured physically and not being able to get up and down the court and perform at a high level, which could lead to some frustration. I dealt with it with the shin. You're kind of out there playing around and playing and you kind of wind up being a little bit of a shell of yourself because of your physical limitations."
Added Dwight Howard: "You always want to try to play and give a great effort every night and do the best you can, but sometimes you get scrutinized when you don't perform as well as everybody wants you to. Sometimes, they may not realize that we may be injured. People expect ... when we get on the floor to be 100 percent every night. I think it's a tough situation for Pau, but he has to realize we all got his back."
Gasol, a 12-year veteran, is averaging 12.6 points and 42 percent shooting, both career lows, and 8.8 rebounds per game.
The 32-year-old Gasol said the tendinitis has been bothering him since training camp and it has hampered his game in various aspects.
"Jumping, running, just getting low and moving my feet when I'm low," Gasol said. "All those things have been very limiting. I haven't been able to take off. I haven't been able to stop on the run and jump and get low and move my feet. This is a game that if you don't get low, you don't have a good base, you're out of balance all the time and you don't have the force and the explosiveness that you need to finish. So, that's been some of the things that I think have been noticeable."
While Gasol is out, the team is planning various exercises for him to strengthen his gluteal and quadricep muscles to alleviate the pressure on the patellar tendons in his knees.
"We have faced a different variety of challenges to this point, too, but hopefully all this will make us stronger down the road," Gasol said. "That's what counts; that's what matters. When the end of the season comes and playoff time comes, that's when we have to deliver. That's when we'll be evaluated and that's what's going to determine whether we had a successful year or not. This first month is just an indicator that things have been rough so far."
1dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann