Gasol might have to miss opener

When the Lakers boarded a row of double-decker buses for their championship parade in June, they should have left one seat open, reserved for Good Fortune.

They managed to keep almost everybody off the injured list, an often-overlooked part of their successful season.

Kobe Bryant played in all 105 of their games. Pau Gasol played in 104. So did Derek Fisher. Andrew Bynum missed 32 because of a torn knee ligament, but his replacement in the starting lineup, Lamar Odom, missed only four games.

With a handful of days until they begin their title defense, however, the Lakers are already dealing with injuries.


For starters, Gasol might be sidelined for the season opener.

He went through a light practice Wednesday but felt pain in the hamstring Thursday morning and was ruled out of exhibition games Thursday and today against the Denver Nuggets. He will have missed the Lakers’ last six exhibition games.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said it “could be” possible that Gasol missed the season opener next Tuesday against the Clippers.

“He had some questions about how it felt after a limited practice,” Jackson said. “To alleviate the response that he had, we just thought it was probably best to back off.”

Then Jackson was asked if he was worried about Gasol’s possible absence.

“Whether he makes it or doesn’t make it, I’m not worried,” Jackson said. “That doesn’t worry me.”

Bynum also sat out Thursday’s game, resting a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder. He was hurt after reaching for a defensive rebound Tuesday against Golden State.

“I’m going to take a couple days off,” he said. “That’s really it.”

Bynum said he would “most likely” play if tonight were a regular-season game and would “definitely” play if it were a playoff game.

So was Jackson worried about Bynum’s injury?

“I’m not concerned about it, but my druthers would be to have them together playing,” he said.

As if to illustrate the point, Jackson ended an interview session with reporters, took a few steps and started singing, “It takes a worried man to sing a worried song,” a line from a song by the Old 97’s.

That’s Jackson -- seemingly always worry-free.

As for the healthy Lakers, they defeated Denver, 106-89, at the Honda Center in Anaheim.

Jackson started DJ Mbenga to match up against physical Denver center Nene. It worked.

Mbenga had seven blocked shots.

“He probably ends up with more [in one game] than Andrew does the whole preseason,” Jackson said wryly.

Bynum has eight blocked shots in exhibition play.

In addition to his blocked shots, the Lakers’ third-string center outscored Nene, 8-3.

Bryant had 23 points, Odom had 17, and the Lakers improved to 6-1 in exhibition play.


No longer champs

In the virtual world of the NBA, the Lakers won’t be repeating as champions.

The Cleveland Cavaliers will beat them in seven games to win the title, according to a season-long video game simulation conducted by EA Sports.

Bryant will also be shut out of the fun: LeBron James will win the regular-season MVP and Finals MVP, according to the video-game maker. The Lakers will have the best regular-season record (63-19) and will beat San Antonio in the Western Conference finals.