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Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol returns up in air

All-Star guard is doubtful for game against Kings on Sunday while power forward has soreness in his foot after a two-on-two game.

March 17, 2013|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and power forward Pau Gasol are both nursing injuries with no set timetable for either players' return.
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and power forward Pau Gasol are both nursing injuries… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )

Kobe Bryant is doubtful for Sunday's game against Sacramento, the Lakers said, and it was only the first half of an unsettling injury report.

Pau Gasol experienced soreness in his right foot while playing two-on-two at the team training facility Saturday. The cause and extent of the soreness are unclear, but Gasol will see foot specialist Kenneth Jung on Sunday.

Gasol had targeted Monday's game in Phoenix as his return date from a tear inside the bottom of the foot, though it looked less possible after Saturday's development.

Other than Gasol's workout with three other players, the Lakers (35-32) did not practice Saturday. Neither Gasol nor Bryant was available for comment.

Since injuring the foot Feb. 5, Gasol had slowly increased his workouts after several weeks of inactivity, progressing from elliptical machines to an "anti-gravity" treadmill that reduced the impact of jogging.

He started running on the court a few days ago, and Saturday marked his second two-on-two workout.

The Lakers had anticipated his return, particularly Bryant.

"I think it's huge for us," Bryant said Friday. "We've been kind of able to keep the ship floating a little bit while he's been out. But having him back in that lineup changes things for defenses and what they have to prepare for. In the block, he's just a handful."

Bryant continued to deal with a severely sprained left ankle that limited him to one quarter Friday against Indiana, making his availability against Sacramento a question mark from the start. He continued to undergo treatment on the ankle Saturday.

Bryant said he couldn't put any pressure on it during the Lakers' 99-93 victory over the Pacers.

He experienced only the 15th scoreless game of his 17-year career, missing all four of his shots in 12 minutes.

On Sunday, Gasol will miss his 32nd game this season, including 19 because of the torn plantar fascia. He also missed eight games because of tendinitis in his knees and five because of a concussion.

Bryant wasn't the only one eager to see him come back.

"That'll be great to have another big [man] and hopefully get a little rest. Just a little bit," Dwight Howard said Friday, smiling. "I'm happy that he's getting healthy."

Gasol's return would mean slightly longer breaks for Howard, the end of Metta World Peace at backup center and fewer minutes for struggling power forward Earl Clark.

After their back-to-back games Sunday and Monday, the Lakers don't play again until Friday against the Washington Wizards. Then they begin a four-game trip March 25 at the Golden State Warriors.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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