Pau Gasol appears close to return – LA Times

By Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times

OKLAHOMA CITY–Pau Gasol’s hamstring now stretches all the way to Spain . . . sort of.

The Lakers sent the information from Gasol’s latest medical test to his personal physician and also his parents, who are in the medical field in Spain. (His mother is a doctor and his father is a hospital administrator.)

The Lakers declined to reveal the results of the MRI exam, citing the need for confirmation from Gasol’s chosen recipients, but his strained right hamstring doesn’t appear to be bad enough to keep him out much longer.

He went through a “pretty good workout” after the team’s Tuesday afternoon shoot-around, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said.

Gasol will not play tonight against Houston, his fifth consecutive game on the sidelines, but what about Friday against Memphis, his old team?

“We’ll see,” Jackson said. “We hope he can get a practice in this week.”

Jackson typically wants injured players to practice before playing in a game. The Lakers are scheduled to practice Thursday and Saturday this week.

Gasol did some light shooting Tuesday and also worked on his strength and conditioning with Alex McKechnie and Chip Schaefer, members of the Lakers’ athletic performance staff.

Earlier this week, the possibility of a slight hamstring tear appeared on a sonogram, a less-detailed test preferred by many European players. Even if the MRI exam confirmed a slight tear, Gasol seemed to be moving forward in his progress Tuesday.

Bynum banter

Andrew Bynum had 22 points and 10 rebounds Tuesday in the 101-98 overtime win at Oklahoma City and seemed to please Jackson, maybe, in a way, perhaps.

“He had a 10-rebound game and we like that,” Jackson said. “His help defense was better tonight. I’d like to see him block a couple shots that come in there.”

Bynum actually blocked a big one down the stretch, getting a piece of Kevin Durant’s 17-footer with 23.9 seconds left in overtime and the Lakers ahead, 99-98.

But Bynum was not credited with a blocked shot by the official scorer and finished with none in the final box score.

“Of course not,” Bynum said with a shrug. “I never get my stats.”

Retirement hits home for Walton

Bill Walton will no longer work as a TV analyst because of a bad back, which surprised his son.

“I know how much he loved it, so it’s got to be really hard for him,” forward Luke Walton said.

The younger Walton was an occasional target of his father’s criticism when the elder Walton worked a Lakers game.

“People know he is always going to say what he thinks and sees, and not say the PC thing to say,” Luke Walton said.