Gasol may have slight tear in muscle
Because his right hamstring had been slow to heal, Lakers forward Pau Gasol decided to undergo an examination, one facet of which was a sonogram that revealed he might have a slight tear.
Gasol also had an MRI test Monday, which offers a more detailed picture. The Lakers didn’t have the results by the end of practice, but they could have them by today.
“It’s not as sophisticated a test,” Lakers spokesman John Black said about the sonogram. “That’s why we are doing the MRI. It’s much more sophisticated.”
Gasol originally was diagnosed with a strained hamstring. He tried to practice two weeks ago, but said he aggravated it.
Gasol has been shut down for three weeks now, missing the first three regular-season games and the last six exhibition games.
He traveled with the team, which left Monday on a two-game trip for games at Oklahoma City tonight and Houston on Wednesday night. But Gasol is a not expected to play in either game.
Over the last two years, Gasol had played a lot of basketball. He played on the Lakers team that lost to the Boston Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals and then Gasol played for Spain in the Olympics. He played in 104 games during last season’s run to the NBA title and played on Spain’s national team again this summer in the European Championships.
The Lakers will face an improved Thunder team tonight at the Ford Center. Oklahoma City is 2-1, having lost its last game to Portland.
The Thunder has a rising star in Kevin Durant, a third-year 6-9 small forward averaging 22 points per game, and a promising young point guard in Russell Westbrook, a second-year player from UCLA averaging 15.7 points and 8.3 assists, seventh-best in the NBA.
The Lakers have defeated the Thunder nine consecutive times, dating to the team’s last two seasons as the Seattle SuperSonics. But the Lakers don’t expect an easy time inside the Ford Center, where fan enthusiasm is like that at a college basketball game.
“They are a very animated crowd,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. “They should be. Their young players are exciting to watch. They are still making mistakes -- obviously, it’s a young team.”
This will be the Lakers’ first road game this season, and their first of 20 sets of back-to-back games.
The last time they played that many back-to-backs was during the 1999-2000 NBA championship season.
The Lakers played 19 back-to-back sets last season. They were 14-5 in first games and 14-5 in second games.
The Lakers have won their last four road openers and since moving to Los Angeles are 33-16 all-time in their first road game of the season.
Powell offers spark
His time has been limited this season, but forward Josh Powell has made the most of his minutes.
Powell is getting just 9.7 minutes per game as the back-up power forward. But he’s averaging 5.7 points during his short stints.
Over the course of 48 minutes, that would average out to 28.2 points per game.
Powell is on fire, having made eight of his 10 shots, and he’s made one of two three-pointers.
“I think he’s confident,” Jackson said. “He’s been real good off the bench for us so far this year.”