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Pau Gasol's 'pop' takes some air out of Lakers' 92-83 win over Nets

Gasol again strains plantar fasciitis in his foot, but also feels something worse trying to block shot. He will have MRI exam as Lakers also do without Dwight Howard; Earl Clark steps in as center.

February 05, 2013|By Mike Bresnahan

NEW YORK — Pau Gasol's comments certainly won't comfort any Lakers followers.

"Right now I'm waiting for crutches so I can walk out of here," he said nervously in the visitors' locker room after straining the plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

It's an injury as ugly as it sounds, plantar fasciitis known more commonly as painful swelling on the soft tissue under the arch of the foot.

But Gasol did something worse than that Tuesday against the Brooklyn Nets, hearing a pop in his foot while jumping to block Brook Lopez's shot.

Somehow the Lakers won, 92-83, without Metta World Peace (suspended) and Dwight Howard (sore shoulder), as Earl Clark finished the game at center for them.

But Gasol will undergo an MRI exam Wednesday in Boston. The Lakers play the Celtics there Thursday.

"I'm worried about it," he said. "I never felt anything like I did tonight."

Gasol has been slowed by plantar fasciitis in the same foot throughout this season and aggravated it earlier in the game.

Then he stayed down on the court for several seconds after getting a piece of Lopez's shot with 4:23 to play. He remained in the game after a 20-second timeout but started limping after trying to run and headed for the locker room with 3:52 to go.

Kobe Bryant's no doctor. He doesn't need to be one.

"Obviously we don't know the extent of the severity of the injury but I'm very, very concerned to say the least," he said. "We can't afford to lose Pau for a long stretch. We need to get him back."

Bryant is pushing through an injury of his own, revealing he has tendinitis in his right elbow. He made only nine of 24 shots and had five turnovers Tuesday but finished with 21 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals.

It helped compensate for the loss of Howard, who missed a sixth game because of a torn labrum, and World Peace, who served a one-game NBA suspension for a mild on-court dust-up Sunday with Detroit guard Brandon Knight.

Howard remained day to day, saying he didn't want to risk further injury to his shoulder.

With a stunning number of Lakers fans in attendance, Bryant helped push away from an 80-80 tie. He dribbled out almost to midcourt, then blew past Gerald Wallace and beat Kris Humphries for a dunk with 2:45 to go.

"I was pretty shocked that the lane was so wide open," Bryant said. "I think that everybody's been drinking the 'Kobe pass' Kool-Aid so everybody kind of stayed on the perimeter with the shooters. And it just parted like the Red Sea. I felt a little like Moses."

Of considerable importance, Clark flipped around his free-throw woes against Detroit and made two from the line with 3:27 to play. His mid-range shot then gave the Lakers an 88-83 lead. He finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Steve Nash made four late free throws, reversing his rare double miss from the line with 2.7 seconds left against Detroit.

"In a way I needed that to get back up on the horse a little bit," Nash said after finishing with 17 points and eight assists. "That's my job, is to go up there and make shots and free throws down the stretch and help close the game."

The Lakers (23-26) improved to 3-1 on their seven-game Grammy trip and won three consecutive road games for only the second time this season.

"It feels good to pull out a win like this but now reality kind of sets in," Bryant said. "If Pau can't go and Dwight can't go, we have to figure something out."

Gasol had 15 points on six-for-16 shooting.

Lopez had 30 points and 11 rebounds for the Nets (28-20), who lost to the Lakers for a 10th consecutive time.

Near the end of it, the Lakers' reserves cheered on the starters as they pulled away. It looked like a thin bunch, only five guys in jerseys on the bench.

It might be that way for a while. The Lakers are on a 6-1 streak and finally playing well. They just can't seem to be healthy at the same time.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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