The Los Angeles Lakers appear close to having their four stars
together on the floor again.
Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol could both return from injuries as the
Lakers try for an eighth straight home win Friday night against the
Los Angeles coach Mike D’Antoni said Wednesday he hopes his two
injured stars could play Friday. Bryant missed the last two games
and three quarters of another after he sprained his ankle at
Atlanta on March 13. Gasol, meanwhile, has sat the last 20 with a
torn plantar fascia.
Gasol, Bryant, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash have not played
together since Jan. 30 for the Lakers (36-33), who have won 19 of
27 and currently own the final playoff spot in the Western
Conference. Those four and Metta World Peace have played just 17
games together and not made up the starting lineup since Jan.
“If our minds and hearts are into it, we can be a heck of a team
and we can beat anybody,” Gasol told the Lakers’ official website.
“We have too many guys who can put the ball in the hole for us to
focus on one or two guys mainly. Once we share the ball and we
really want to defend, get back in transition and limit our
turnovers, we’re a tough team.”
Regardless when Gasol returns, D’Antoni said the 7-footer would
eventually start alongside Howard. Gasol begrudgingly came off the
bench for seven games in January when D’Antoni felt he wasn’t
“There were a lot of decisions made when Steve Nash wasn’t 100
percent on the floor, when Dwight Howard wasn’t 100 percent, when
Pau wasn’t 100 percent,” D’Antoni said. “When they’re all 100
percent, it can work.”
Playing its ninth game in 14 days, Los Angeles ran out of gas
during Monday’s 99-76 loss at Phoenix. Nash scored 19 and Howard
added 16 with 11 rebounds but the Lakers shot 33.3 percent – their
second-lowest effort of the season – and committed 18
“We just hit the wall,” Nash said. “With some guys being
injured, we’ve been playing a seven-man rotation and I think it
caught up with us a little bit.”
Though Howard went 6 of 18 from the field, he’s scored at least
16 points six times and averaged 15.1 boards while recording eight
The Lakers have averaged 108.8 points and shot 49.0 percent
during their longest home winning stretch since a 10-game run last
Nash is averaging 18.0 points on 56.5 percent shooting in the
last five at Staples Center.
Los Angeles has won four straight at home and 10 of 11 overall
against the Wizards (24-43). Bryant scored 30 in the Lakers’ 102-96
win at Washington on Dec. 14.
Point guard John Wall was still recovering from an offseason
knee injury then, but the Wizards are 19-15 since his season debut.
He had 19 points and eight assists as Washington held Phoenix to
33.7 percent shooting to win for the fourth time in five games,
88-79 on Wednesday.
The Wizards have allowed fewer than 88 points in half of their
last 10 contests.
“Defensively, that’s what we take our pride in,” said Wall, who
is averaging 23.3 points on 57.1 percent shooting and 9.5 assists
over the last six games. “When we play defense, we feel we can beat
Wall had 22 points and 14 assists in his only game against the
Lakers at Staples, a 115-108 loss on Dec. 7, 2010.
The Wizards could be without second-leading scorer Bradley Beal
(13.9 points per game) after the rookie left Wednesday with a