Prior to the Los Angeles Lakers’ game on Tuesday night against the New Orleans Pelicans, head coach Mike D’Antoni told reporters that in addition to Pau Gasol‘s respiratory issues he has been dealing with a sore left foot this season.
After the game, the 33-year-old delved a little more into the specifics about the injury.
“It’s something that I have been playing with since the beginning of the season. It happened at the end of training camp when I started feeling it,” Gasol said. “We did a MRI (last week) because we thought it was some nerve damage, but it is just a strained muscle in my left foot. Hopefully we can keep it under control.”
Gasol hadn’t spoken about injury before tonight as he doesn’t want it to be labeled as one of the reasons for his struggles early on this season, where is averaging a career-low in points (12.1), field goal percentage (.382) and minutes (27.8).
“It’s sore a lot of times, but I don’t like to talk about things like that because they sound like excuses,” Gasol said. “I don’t like to make excuses when thing go wrong.”
After the Lakers 116-95 win, he described it as ”feeling better,” which is encouraging news following an effective performance as he scored 14 points on 6-0f-10 shooting from the field to go along with eight rebounds in 26 minutes on the floor. It also marked just the second time this season that he has shot over 50 percent in a game.
“I was able to put a better effort together. I was sharper,” Gasol said. “I would like to continue to shoot over 50 percent if I can. I felt good. It was a good overall game.”
He also played a big part in limiting Anthony Davis to 15 points with five rebounds in 26 minutes played. It was a vast improvement from the last time they faced the Pelicans last Friday as Davis had a career-high 32 points to go along with 12 rebounds and six blocks.
So moving forward into the season,Gasol’s health will be key as Kobe Bryant is still out rehabbing his surgically-repaired left Achilles tendon and Steve Nash will not be able to return for least the next two weeks with nerve root damage in his back.
With that said, D’Antoni knows that the Lakers will need Gasol to be productive when he is on the floor if they want to continue to win games.
“He has to be the guy that has to dominant that game more or less,” D’Antoni said before Tuesday’s game. “We got to get him into position to be able to do that. Again it’s not just one guy, but obviously he is the most talented guy we have on the team and he will have to be our leader.”
Even when Bryant and Nash return to the court, Gasol will still have to be one of the focal point of the offense if the Lakers want to achieve any level of success this season.
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