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Lakers' Pau Gasol is probable for Dec. 22 as Steve Nash progresses

How to incorporate Gasol into the Lakers' offense is still a hot topic. The Lakers are 2-5 without the forward, who says he'll probably return for the Golden State game that's still a week away.

December 15, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Pau Gasol and Steve Nash sit on the bench during the second half during the Lakers' win over the Washington Wizards, 102-96.
Pau Gasol and Steve Nash sit on the bench during the second half during the… (Rob Carr /Getty Images )

WASHINGTON — Steve Nash is running and shooting and hoping to practice next week, all good signs for the Lakers.

But what about Pau Gasol?

The four-time All-Star continues to deal with knee tendinitis, sitting out his seventh game Friday against Washington.

Using the standard for NFL injury reports, Gasol declared himself doubtful for Sunday's game against Philadelphia, questionable for Tuesday against Charlotte and probable Dec. 22 against Golden State.

Yep, looks like at least another week before he returns.

"There's no 'definites' right now," he said Friday.

The Lakers are 2-5 in Gasol's absence after beating the Wizards, 102-96.

He is averaging 12.6 points and shooting only 42%, stunningly low stats, though the Lakers have stumbled without him.

"We haven't obtained the results I would like and we would like as a team lately," he said. "Hopefully it'll all be better later on."

Gasol ducked reporters for a few days, briefly saying on Tuesday his ailing knees remained "an enigma."

He even declined interview requests when the Lakers played Thursday in New York, where numerous reporters from international publications were told they couldn't talk to him.

The NBA does not require injured players to talk to the media.

Gasol was more chatty Friday. He has started running on a treadmill, a steady move toward his return.

"I'm feeling better," he said. "We don't want to risk going back to the way it was before. We're taking it one step at a time so we won't have any setbacks and I won't have to be out any longer than I need to."

Gasol hasn't played since being benched the last 6:07 of a Dec. 2 loss to Orlando, after which Kobe Bryant infamously told him through reporters to "put your big-boy pants on."

"You can't whine about it," Bryant said at the time. "I'm 34 years old. I'm running screen-and-rolls out there. Steve is out and my [tail] is running up and down the court more than I have my entire career. You have to adjust to it. I stay after practice and work on my ballhandling, my screen-and-roll."

Gasol dropped hints about his knees at least two weeks before pulling himself out of the lineup, wearing tendinitis bands on them and revealing they had bothered him since training camp.

Antawn Jamison got the nod over Gasol twice in the fourth quarter because the Lakers needed "to be a more athletic team," Coach Mike D'Antoni said earlier this month.

There have been internal talks whether to bring him off the bench when he returns, though the Lakers plan to reinsert him in the starting lineup for now.

Hot topic

Gasol has sparked solid debate despite being out the last two weeks.

Many people have clamored for him to get more action in the post, be it Bryant, Magic Johnson and, most recently, Dwight Howard, after the Lakers lost to New York.

It's an incredibly popular topic — what to do with Gasol?

"We have to make it work," Howard said. "We have two guys who can score on the block. You have to use them."

First, Gasol needs to come back, next weekend apparently the latest best guess.

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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