L.A. holds breath on Gasol

In a season of ups and downs (mainly downs), injuries, and mediocre basketball, the Lakers on Thursday received bad news on one big man and got a mixed bag on another.

An MRI exam on Pau Gasol’s right foot revealed that he has plantar fasciitis, a very painful injury known for taking a long time to heal. While the 7-footer is listed as probable for Friday’s game against the Blazers at Staples Center, plantar fasciitis is as unpredictable as it is painful, so Gasol’s availability vs. Portland is far from a certainty. That could leave Jordan Hill to back up Dwight Howard. Which brings us to the mixed bag.

The NBA announced late Thursday that Howard was fined $35,000 for pie-facing the Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried to the ground in the Lakers’ 126-114 road loss on Wednesday night. But at least Howard will be able to play Friday (much of the postgame talk on Wednesday focused on whether the center would be suspended for the flagrant 2 foul).
Gasol was just getting his body — and game — back into shape after sitting out eight consecutive contests with tendinitis in both knees. In Wednesday’s loss to Denver, Gasol had one of his best games of the season so far, scoring 19 points with six rebounds and five assists while shooting 64 percent from the field (7 of 11). He also added a pair of blocked shots.
Portland currently holds the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with a 14-13 record. The Lakers are 14-15, just one game out of the playoff chase, but 11th overall in the conference.