It was only a matter of time until all these minutes took their toll on Pau Gasol. On Wednesday night in Houston Gasol was slowed by a strained left hamstring that first flared up in Memphis. At one point in the second half the Spaniard left the game for treatment yet returned in time to be on the court for the Lakers’ fourth quarter collapse.
As Gasol told the Times’ Broderick Turner the injury prevented him from being able to run and sprint and that has definitely slowed this once unstoppable offense.
This past week has shown just how important it is for the Lakers to have a healthy and rested Gasol. Before this four game slide there were talks of Pau for MVP. Now there are just cries for him to get a day off.
His production has dipped and it’s no coincidence that this team is mired in its longest losing streak since Pau put on a Purple and Gold uniform.
I’ve been calling for it for a minute now and Phil Jackson needs to do his team a favor and sit Pau tonight against the Sacramento Kings. With the next game not until Tuesday, Pau could get a full five days to recover.
Phil is already toying with the notion of giving Derrick Caracter the first start of his NBA career and the rookie could log major minutes.
“Might have to start him. Play him the whole game. That’s always an option where something may happen like that.”
Naturally you don’t want to see the Lake Show struggle with an even thinner frontline but pushing Pau for another 40+ minutes could be suicidal. We’re all well aware of the fact that no championship team coached by PJ has ever dropped four straight. That also means no team has ever lost five in a row and won a Larry O’Brien either.
Therefore what difference will it make if Pau plays or not?
Nothing will be known of Gasol’s status for tonight until he gives it a go at the shootaround. But Pau knows what’s at stake and what’s required of him.
“We’re short-handed already. So I just try to be out there as much as I can and do as much as I can without obviously wanting anything to happen that would put you out. I’ve got to toughen up right now…”
Give Gasol credit, his maturity and toughness have increased exponentially these last three years. However, this is just the beginning of the journey and you’d hate to see any long term damaged suffered at this stage.