Gasol return could be delayed

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.

Lakers forward Pau Gasol was examined by foot specialist Kenneth Jung as scheduled Sunday, D’Antoni said, though the outcome was not immediately known. Gasol had hoped to return Monday against Phoenix from a tear inside the bottom of his foot before experiencing soreness Saturday while playing two-on-two at the team’s practice facility.

D’Antoni said he was not more inclined to rest Kobe Bryant and Gasol this week considering the Lakers played Sacramento and have Phoenix and Washington, teams that are a combined 62 games under .500.

“We’d get in trouble that way about taking people lightly,” D’Antoni said. “We’re not taking anybody” lightly.

D’Antoni said he would defer to Bryant if the veteran said he was able to play, though the coach acknowledged the need to keep Bryant healthy as the Lakers approach the playoffs.

“He’s going to tell you how he feels and you have to take his word for it,” D’Antoni said. “We’ll always caution him because we have to look at the big picture and talk to him about it.

“But it is an ankle, and if you can play on an ankle, you can play on it. You won’t do that much more damage to it. It might just take you a little longer to get to 100[%], but it’s not something that he’s going to go damage worse unless he rolls it again, but that could happen any time.”

-Ben Bolch

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