Bucks-Lakers Preview

Pau Gasol is set to return for the Los Angeles Lakers after some

controversy over his absence.

Gasol will try to help the Lakers end their season-high losing

streak at five games Tuesday night when they host the Milwaukee

Bucks.

The Lakers power forward has missed two straight games with a

respiratory infection, but returned to practice Monday. He was

breathing hard and it appeared his nose was still congested

afterward.

“Just coughing, not being able to breathe, just really stuffed

up, all my cavities are affected,” Gasol said. “It is what it is.

You gotta play through it. I needed those days to try to get the

worst part out of the way.”

Some of his teammates were reportedly unhappy that Gasol sat out

Sunday’s 111-104 home loss to Philadelphia since it was his

decision not to play. Coach Mike D’Antoni addressed the situation

Monday.

“(It’s) very unfortunate that a teammate would even think about

that, much less say it in the media,” D’Antoni said. “That is not

right, and that is definitely wrong. Pau was sick, and he’s getting

better now and he’ll be ready tomorrow.”

Gasol is second on the team in scoring at 14.7 points per game

and averaging a team-best 9.4 rebounds. He said his focus was on

helping Los Angeles (13-18) sweep the remainder of this four-game

homestand.

“My teammates want me to be on the floor, they count on me so

that’s it,” Gasol said. “I just have to do my best to deliver and

be support(ive) for my teammates and make sure that we get through

these next three games with a positive note. Our goal is to win

these next three, no matter how, no matter what.”

The injury-plagued Lakers suffered another blow Sunday when

guard Xavier Henry left with a strained right knee that will

sideline him for at least another week.

Los Angeles will welcome another Eastern Conference lightweight

to town, as league-worst Milwaukee (6-24) begins a three-game trip.

The Bucks have lost eight of nine, and are 0-6 against West

foes.

“I think the road is one of the best places to get well,” coach

Larry Drew said. “We’re going on a three-game road trip. I think

when you go out on the road, there’s more of a sense kind of, of

urgency.”

Drew won’t have center John Henson, who will miss this trip with

a sprained left ankle.

Another second-year pro who will see action is Khris Middleton,

a small forward averaging 21.0 points on 51.7 percent shooting over

his last four games.

“He’s shooting it with confidence, that’s the one thing that I

do notice,” Drew said. “He’s shooting it with confidence, he’s

shooting it within rhythm. Khris is a good shooter.”

He’s one of the few Bucks shooting with confidence since

Milwaukee’s 42.0 field-goal percentage is one of the league’s worst

marks.

This contest also pits the league’s worst teams in rebound

margin, with Milwaukee at minus-4.8 and Los Angeles at

minus-4.7.

“That’s been one of our problems thus far this year,” Drew said.

“We talk about giving up the offensive rebound. We have to be

physical.”

The Bucks have won three of the last four matchups after

dropping the previous six.