It was a day of medical terms and injury evaluations, a time for the Lakers to take a breath after two overtime road victories and, of greater importance, take stock of their ailing big men.
Andrew Bynum was their latest 7-footer to undergo an MRI exam, the results showing a strained right elbow that left him listed as doubtful for tonight's game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Pau Gasol did some work on the practice court Thursday but declared himself out for tonight's game, unless his strained right hamstring suddenly felt much, much better today.
In other words, DJ Mbenga might start at center. Or if the Lakers go with a small lineup, Lamar Odom might get the call in the middle, with Josh Powell moving into the starting lineup at forward. "Whatever it takes," Odom said.
Bynum was injured in overtime Wednesday against Houston when center Chuck Hayes fouled him hard across the arm.
Bynum's condition was bad enough after the game that he could use only one arm to get dressed, but he was able to lift his right arm a day later, albeit with pain.
"It's nothing too serious," Bynum said while his arm was hooked up to an electro-stimulation machine. "I don't think I could be myself out there [tonight]. I can raise my hand and all that stuff. It's just the pain that's associated with doing it."
It might not be the worst thing for Bynum to miss a game against Memphis. He has suffered knee injuries each of the last two seasons against the Grizzlies. "I'm kind of excited about not having to play in that one, I guess," Bynum said, smiling.
Bynum seemed to target Sunday's game against New Orleans as his return date."He's having a good run of it and he's having a lot of fun getting all those minutes out there, so I'm sure he wants to get back as quickly as possible," Coach Phil Jackson said.
Bynum is averaging 20 points and 10.6 rebounds this season.
Gasol went through some walk-throughs on offense but did not take part in a half-court scrimmage during the second half of practice, instead doing solo shooting and working on his post moves.
"I definitely won't be able to be out there [tonight], but we're not ruling Sunday out," Gasol said. "We'll see if Sunday is the day."
The Lakers are 4-1, though three of their victories have been tightly contested going into the fourth quarter.
They want their All-Star back.
"We're missing a key element to our team, offensively and defensively," Kobe Bryant said. "It kind of alters our dynamic."
The other guy
Kwame Brown is still bouncing around the NBA netherworld, averaging 2.8 points for Detroit, but another player the Lakers dealt in the Gasol trade in February 2008 is making steady progress.
Memphis center Marc Gasol, Pau's younger brother, is averaging 17.6 points and 12.6 rebounds in only his second NBA season.
The younger Gasol is a stronger version of his brother, weighing 30 pounds more, while also being listed at 7 feet.
"He beat the heck out of his [older] brother last year, so I can see why he's anxious to come in here and play again against us," Jackson said.
In the trade that shook the NBA world 21 months ago, the Lakers sent Marc Gasol, Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, and first-round draft picks in 2008 and 2010 to the Grizzlies for Pau Gasol. McKie never played for Memphis and Crittenton has had an unremarkable career and is now with Washington.
Remarkably, the Lakers have not lost three consecutive games since acquiring the elder Gasol.