Pau Gasol said he plans to miss at least two games because of tendinitis in… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
HOUSTON — With a roll of the eyes as he walked to the team bus, Pau Gasol wasn't convinced he'd be healthy in time for the Lakers' game Friday against Oklahoma City.
It's only their most important of the season so far.
"I don't know," Gasol said, shaking his head. "I just don't know."
Gasol planned to sit at least two games because of tendinitis in his knees, a self-imposed exile that began Tuesday in Houston and would continue Wednesday in New Orleans.
His knees were annoying him in recent weeks, his left more than his right, so he approached Coach Mike D'Antoni and asked to sit out some games.
Gasol is considering an MRI exam to rule out something more serious when the team returns from a three-game trip that concludes against Oklahoma City.
He said he lacked the "force and the explosiveness" necessary to play.
"I see plays that I just don't get to or don't finish the way I want to. Those happen a couple of times every game and it's been frustrating," Gasol said. "Until I feel like I can be out there playing close to 100% or 100% ... the team doesn't deserve any less, I don't deserve any less but to be out there performing at my best, and that's what we'll try to do."
Lakers followers have been sore about Gasol's play this season. He is averaging 12.6 points and shooting 42%, both of which will be career-lows if they don't improve dramatically.
He's still averaging 8.8 rebounds, near his career mark of 9.2.
In addition to missing the final 6:07 of a loss to Orlando last Sunday, Gasol was held out of the entire fourth quarter recently against Memphis.
Despite Gasol's struggles this season, Kobe Bryant said the Lakers "miss a lot" without him.
"He's a dominant player, a player that's an excellent passer, an excellent post player, an excellent shooter and decision-maker," he said.
Antawn Jamison started in Gasol's place Tuesday and had 15 points and nine rebounds in the Lakers' 107-105 loss.
Duhon gets nod
Chris Duhon looked steadier at point guard than Darius Morris and finished with six points, seven assists and five rebounds in his first start with the Lakers.
Duhon, 30, arrived from Orlando in the Dwight Howard trade in August but was expected to be the Lakers' third or fourth point guard.
He started only 14 games the previous two seasons with Orlando, reflecting a gradual decline in his skills.
He has been pressed into action with Steve Nash missing the last 16 games and Steve Blake sidelined at least six more weeks because of abdominal surgery.
He looked more in control of the Lakers' offense than the younger Morris on Tuesday.
"I thought it went well," said Duhon, who played 38 minutes. "Obviously, you'd rather win."
Morris was scoreless with two assists in almost 10 minutes.
Times staff writer Ben Bolch contributed to this report.