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Lakers need Marc Gasol, but there’s no timetable for his return

Lakers center Marc Gasol dribbles during a game against the Brooklyn Nets on Feb. 18 at Staples Center.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

The Lakers could really use the big body of Marc Gasol, but there is no timetable for the center’s return despite him being out of the health and safety protocols.

With Montrezl Harrell as the Lakers’ only true center left, the Lakers don’t actually have a backup and they are smaller with the 6-foot-11 Gasol still sidelined.

Gasol has missed nine games since entering the protocols. He hasn’t played in just over three weeks and his conditioning is still an issue.

Coach Frank Vogel, who is down LeBron James (high right ankle sprain) and Anthony Davis (sprained right calf), said they will not rush Gasol back until he’s ready.

The Lakers play the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night at Staples Center.

“Yeah, that’s on the medical team to keep working with him and his build back up to return to play,” Vogel said after the Lakers were defeated 128-111 by the Pelicans on Tuesday night in New Orleans. “So, we’ll see. Until they tell me he’s cleared, this is the group that we got, and we gotta go win a game.”

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The Lakers continue to struggle without LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and lose to the Pelicans 128-111 on Tuesday in New Orleans.

Cacok starts at center

Devontae Cacok started in his first NBA game Tuesday night against the Pelicans, taking over the revolving door at the center position that Markieff Morris held down against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night.

Cacok scored four points and grabbed two rebounds in 13 minutes.

His first basket of the game was a lob dunk off a pass from Dennis Schroder in the first quarter.

“It was a great experience for me, first time being able to start for an NBA team,” Cacok said via video. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time, and a lot of adrenaline, of course. First time doing it, first getting that opportunity and I just want to go out there and have fun and just enjoy the journey, the process.”

New Orleans Pelicans' Zion Williamson goes to the basket against Lakers guard Dennis Schroder and forward Devontae Cacok.
New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson goes to the basket against Lakers guard Dennis Schroder and forward Devontae Cacok, left, in the second half in New Orleans on Tuesday.
(Gerald Herbert / Associated Press)

At 6-7, 240 pounds, Cacok, playing only his eighth game of the season, was undersized going up against New Orleans’ 6-11 center Steven Adams.

Though the short-handed Lakers were defeated, Cacok said it still wasn’t tough on him to get out there and perform.

“Naw, not at all,” he said. “I’m on the best team in the NBA, in the world. I take my time understanding that I was preparing, I’m going to stay prepared. Being able to get a chance regardless of what the situation may be is not going to knock me down. I’m still going to go out there just as if I was up there in the rotation. I just take it game by game, do what I can do and regardless of the situation, I’m still going to give it everything I’ve got.”

Gail Goodrich shares fond and funny memories of fellow Lakers legend Elgin Baylor, who died Monday at 86.

Lakers not discouraged

The Lakers have lost three consecutive games, the last two by an average of 17 points per game.

They don’t have enough firepower and their defense has been lacking.

The Lakers’ top two weapons in James and Davis obviously are not around to help the cause.

Still, Vogel said he’s not discouraged.

“Oh, well, we’re staying positive,” he said. “So we’ve got a great belief in this group, even with AD and Bron out, that we can win games during this stretch and that there’s going to be a silver lining to it at the end of it. The growth that we exhibit over the next X amount of games where we’re short-handed will pay dividends down the stretch. We’re gonna remain positive, we’re gonna keep playing super hard like we did tonight, and we just gotta execute better and collect as many wins along the way as we can. But our group is gonna remain positive.”

Vaccine progress for the Lakers

Vogel was asked whether the Lakers have made any progress toward the team getting vaccinated for COVID-19.

“Uh, not yet,” Vogel said. “We’re still waiting. There’s been some talk about trying to get it, but we’re not there yet.”


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