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Pau Gasol shows signs of wearing down under the workload

The Lakers center's production has slipped as he has averaged 45 minutes the last three games. He's likely to keep playing lots of minutes until Andrew Bynum returns from injury.

December 01, 2010|By Mike Bresnahan

Reporting from Memphis — The question of Pau Gasol's fatigue gained some traction when Kobe Bryant weighed in on it.

"If he's tired, he's tired," Bryant said Tuesday after the Lakers lost to Memphis, 98-96. "There's not much you can do about it."

Bryant said he could sense Gasol's weariness "in certain stretches, yeah. He's been playing a lot."

Gasol has played about 45 minutes each of the last three games. Considered an MVP candidate just a week ago, his production slipped in losses to Indiana and Memphis.

He was outplayed by the Pacers' Roy Hibbert and then made only five of 13 shots against his brother, Memphis center Marc Gasol.

He averaged 37 minutes a game last season and was at 39.4 a game this season after Tuesday.

Is it too much for him?

"That's up to discussion, I guess, but I'm not complaining," he said. "Obviously, it's something that continues to be brought up pretty much every game. If we did what we were supposed to do, most of the games I should be playing 30-something instead of 40-something because we would be resting in the fourth quarters a little bit more and I wouldn't have to be out there for those periods of time."

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson joked about the situation after the Memphis game.

"I can't blame it on fatigue," he said. "I gave him 10 seconds more rest than I did last game."

It was actually closer to 49 more seconds of rest, but who's counting?

Meanwhile, the Lakers continue to wait for Andrew Bynum to return from off-season knee surgery, a move that would reduce Gasol's playing time almost immediately.

The 23-year-old center could be seen running up and down the court before Tuesday's game, doing some sprints on his own and also engaging in post-up drills with assistant coach Chuck Person.

He might be back within two weeks, though the timetable for his return keeps shifting.

"Obviously, Andrew would give us more depth inside and a defensive presence, a big body that can do a lot of things for us," Gasol said. "I'm sure we'll be stronger, for sure. Sometimes that translates to wins, sometimes it doesn't."

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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