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 a two-on-two game at the team’s training facility Saturday. He will see foot specialist Kenneth Jung on Sunday. The cause and extent of the soreness were unclear.
Gasol had targeted Monday’s game against Phoenix as a return date from a tear inside the bottom of the foot, though it looked less possible after Saturday’s news.
Other than Gasol’s workout with three other players, the Lakers (35-32) did not practice Saturday. Neither Gasol nor Bryant were available for comment.
The Lakers had anticipated Gasol’s 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.
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 Gasol 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 back-to-back games Sunday and Monday, the Lakers don’t play again until Friday against Washington.