Gasol still not ready to play
After a frenetic 48 hours of a comeback that worked and another that didn’t, the Lakers took inventory of what body parts still functioned at their abridged practice Tuesday.
In fact, their get-together at the team training facility in El Segundo was marked more by which players weren’t on the court.
The biggest news was a notable lack of center Pau Gasol, who will not play tonight against Charlotte and is doubtful for Friday’s game against Memphis, Coach Phil Jackson said.
Gasol has sat out six games because of a moderate sprain in his left ankle. Jackson said Gasol didn’t have a setback but also “didn’t improve between Saturday and today.”
“It’s swelling,” Jackson said. “Swelling creates soreness. I’m sure he’d like to be back and play [against] Memphis, but I don’t know if that’s a possibility or not. That’s a pretty short order.”
Center Chris Mihm took part in individual drills with assistant coach Jim Cleamons but still wasn’t practicing. Forward Trevor Ariza was doing some light shooting but is not expected back before the playoffs start.
Center Andrew Bynum was nowhere to be seen, although he continues to run on an anti-gravity treadmill. The Lakers hope he returns for a handful of games before the regular season ends April 15.
Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher were pretty much given the day off by Jackson, partly to heal and partly because they logged extensive time in the Lakers’ 123-119 overtime victory Monday at Golden State.
Odom played all 53 minutes and Bryant, who played almost 52 minutes, sported a purple-and-black cut under his left eye, the day-after reminder of a Baron Davis elbow that required five stitches. Bryant also revealed that he had suffered a sprained right ankle in Sunday’s equally frenzied 115-111 loss to the Warriors.
Fisher played almost 37 minutes Monday, about 10 more than his season average, and suffered a bruised knee after taking a charge with four seconds left in overtime.
Finally, there was some rest for the weary.
“We’re back to just kind of being ourselves, having a loose day, healing up,” said Bryant, who complimented Jackson. “He’s always been really great about that, understanding his players and what they need and making sure that they’re physically ready to go. Today was a day for us to kind of relax and get off our feet.”
Sasha Vujacic continues to contribute from outside, Odom from inside.
Vujacic had 19 points and a late momentum-turning three-point shot in overtime against Golden State. Odom scored on the next possession with a driving layup after a feed from Vujacic with 9.1 seconds to play.
“When I’m out there, I’m going to take that shot,” Vujacic said. “My teammates trusted me, and I’ve got to follow through.”
Odom averaged 21 points and 21.5 rebounds in two games against the Warriors. “He’s doing what he should be doing,” Bryant said. “He’s playing extremely well, obviously, and we all pat him on the back for it. This is what we expect from him. This is what he’s capable of.”
Turns out, the Lakers knew what inbounds play Golden State would run in the final seconds of overtime. With the Warriors down two, Monta Ellis was called for charging into Fisher, and the Lakers were given possession of the ball. Bryant made two free throws, and the game was over.
“They ran that against Houston the other night, so we had a chance to see it at the end of the game and understood what was going to happen,” Jackson said.
The Warriors weren’t a happy bunch after the game. “It wasn’t a foul,” Ellis said. “[Fisher] pulled me. You just look at it. He pulled me.”
Fisher limped out of the Lakers’ locker room afterward. “I don’t think anybody was necessarily guilty of anything, but from the angle [referee] Bob [Delaney] had, it looked like [Ellis] had his hands to my chest, which he did,” Fisher said. “But, like I said [earlier], I wasn’t trying to fall down at all in that situation.”
Did it look like a charge to Jackson?
“Yeah,” he said.
vs. Charlotte, 7:30, FSN West
Site -- Staples Center.
Radio -- 570, 1330.
Records -- Lakers 49-22, Bobcats 25-45.
Record vs. Bobcats -- 1-0.
Update -- The Lakers lost three consecutive games against the Bobcats before defeating them last month, 106-97, on the strength of 26 points, six rebounds and six assists from Pau Gasol.
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