Lakers’ Pau Gasol would like to play alongside Chris Kaman
Pau Gasol is back from vertigo. And he has some suggestions.
He liked how Chris Kaman looked Sunday against Phoenix and wouldn’t mind playing alongside him.
“We played a few games in the preseason, and I think it was pretty effective. I think people were pretty excited and we got good results from it, but we really never went back to it during the entire season,” Gasol said after a light practice Monday.
Here we go again, the latest step in a season of Lakers losses, discord and, of course, no playoffs.
Gasol has complained about Coach Mike D’Antoni’s small-ball approach a number of times, but maybe D’Antoni would be open to a Gasol-Kaman tandem Tuesday against Portland.
Or maybe not.
“Well, that’s going to knock Ryan [Kelly] out or that’s going to knock Jordan Hill out,” D’Antoni said. “If Jordan Hill is not playing, then we’ll have the same discussion, ‘Why isn’t Jordan Hill playing?’
“Then if Ryan isn’t playing, you’ve got to be nuts. I thought Ryan Kelly [Sunday] night had his best game ever.”
Kelly scored 17 points with five rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals in the Lakers’ surprising 115-99 victory over Phoenix.
But Gasol wants a twin threat with Kaman down low, even though there are only nine games left in a dead-end season.
“Better late than never? Is that what you’re saying,” Gasol said to a reporter, raising his eyebrows and smiling. “I think a monster game like [Sunday] night, it’s hard to bench a guy like [Kaman] or even not play him like he hasn’t for the most part of the year.
“You’ve got to give him some credit and understand that he is a valuable piece and one of our best pieces right now.”
Kaman had 28 points, 17 rebounds and six assists against Phoenix but seemed destined to go back to the bench against Portland.
“When you do the math, if you’re going to play Pau 30 minutes, that leaves 18 minutes someplace,” D’Antoni said. “You’d like to play Robert [Sacre] because he’s developing. Even if you play Robert 10 minutes, that leaves eight or nine for Chris.
“He said he didn’t want to play that,” D’Antoni said, adding that Kaman told him he would rather sit than accept a token low-minute role.
Kaman did not talk to reporters Monday.
Gasol seemed happy to be back after sitting out four games. He felt dizzy and nauseated at halftime of a March 23 game against Orlando, needed three liters of IV fluid and was transported via ambulance to a hospital where he spent the night.
“It was a nightmare,” he said. “Everybody that saw me, they felt bad because I was extremely pale, I was kind of shivering, I couldn’t really move. I couldn’t get up, I couldn’t sit. They had to take me to a hospital on a stretcher. The whole experience was not pleasant.”
Gasol stayed at his Redondo Beach home for almost six days, not doing much of anything.
“Just letting my system kind of readjust because it was a scary moment for me, my family and ones that love me,” he said.
Gasol said the vertigo was based in his inner ear and could be related to the sinus infection he had that sidelined him three games this season. He still wore a medicinal patch near his left ear Monday and continued to take other medication.
He compared the constant headaches, lightheadedness and drowsiness to the aftermath of a concussion he sustained last season that sidelined him five games.
He does daily doctor-recommended exercises that force him to get dizzy, and his recovery time has become progressively shorter.
The Lakers are reduced to spoilers these days, and they’ve done a good job in the last week, beating playoff hopefuls New York and Phoenix.
“Welcome to the players’ haters ball. The players hate us here,” Nick Young said after scoring 11 points Sunday. “We’re trying to hate, hate, hate, hate, hate ... New York to Phoenix, it’s over.”
True, but it’s been over for the Lakers (25-48) for more than two weeks. And they just lost badly to a pair of non-playoff teams, Milwaukee and Minnesota.
They get another chance to be spoilers against the Trail Blazers (48-27), who are still hoping to pass Houston for fourth place in the Western Conference.
Bresnahan is a Times staff writer. Pincus is a Times correspondent.
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