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Lakers' Pau Gasol not making the trip to Utah

LAKERS FYI

Gasol is still bothered by an upper respiratory infection, but the schedule looks promising for the next week.

December 26, 2013|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Lakers power forward Pau Gasol will miss a second game in a week because of an upper respiratory infection.
Lakers power forward Pau Gasol will miss a second game in a week because of… (Ross D. Franklin / Associated…)

The Lakers aren't tanking to improve their draft position … yet.

So the next four games are important for a team that's 13-16 and hasn't been four games below .500 this season.

It isn't Murderers' Row over the next week with a road game against Utah (8-23), followed by home games against Philadelphia (8-20), Milwaukee (6-22) and Utah again.

If ever there's a break in the schedule, a chance to keep treading while Kobe Bryant, Steve Blake and Steve Nash sit out, this is it.

Then again, Pau Gasol will not travel for Friday's game against the Jazz. Gasol can't seem to shake an upper respiratory infection, the Lakers said, and will not play against Utah.

He missed last Saturday's game against Golden State because of his illness but has played two games since then, averaging 11.5 points and 8.5 rebounds against Phoenix and Miami.

Coach Mike D'Antoni thought Gasol would play against the Jazz.

"I think it's lingering a little bit," D'Antoni said of the illness. "I think it does affect him. He did not [practice], but he's here, he's ready to go…I think."

Ten minutes later, the Lakers announced Gasol would not be ready to go. He saw an ear, nose and throat specialist Thursday.

So the Lakers will try to win without him. Again.

Good thing Utah is a woeful 3-10 at home. And Milwaukee is a similarly sad 3-11 on the road. Philadelphia is an embarrassing 1-12 on the road.

"We definitely want to treat every team like it's a Miami or Golden State and don't want to sleep on anybody, but we think this an opportunity for us to capitalize and really just get back on the right track," forward Wesley Johnson said.

Said D'Antoni: "If you look at it, we've got to start getting back to .500 real quick."

D'Antoni still sorry

Lost among a relatively close Christmas Day game against Miami and Bryant's declaration that he was more focused than ever in his return from another injury was another apology from D'Antoni for saying Lakers fans should "find another team to root for" if they were discouraged.

He initially apologized Tuesday, saying he "lost his mind" while making those comments, and acknowledged Wednesday that "it wasn't a bright thing to say."

D'Antoni brought it up again Thursday when asked by a TV analyst what Christmas gifts he received.

"Nah, I didn't get any," he said. "For opening my mouth, I got a bunch of coal."

Bryant an All-Star?

Bryant continues to lead Western Conference guards in All-Star votes with 723,031, almost 180,000 more than the Clippers' Chris Paul. Golden State's Stephen Curry is third with 481,698 votes.

Bryant has played only six games this season because of Achilles' tendon and knee injuries, averaging 13.8 points and 6.3 assists.

He isn't expected to return from a fractured left knee for five more weeks, about the beginning of February. The All-Star game is Feb. 16 in New Orleans.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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