D'Antoni on Gasol's return: 'It's close'

March, 12, 2013
3/12/13
4:58
PM PT
McMenamin By Dave McMenamin
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Pau Gasol was able to go through an extensive basketball workout Tuesday for the first time since suffering a torn plantar fascia in his right foot five weeks ago.

"He’s starting to run now and he feels pretty good," said Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni on Tuesday before their game against the Orlando Magic. "So, I think every day without setbacks, without getting sore, he’ll just up it."

Gasol worked out for approximately 45 minutes with Lakers assistant coach Darvin Ham and strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco following shootaround, going through a variety of shooting and footwork drills.

The Lakers plan to increase Gasol's workout in Atlanta on Wednesday and have the 12-year veteran back to full-fledged running by Thursday when their three-game road trip continues on to Indiana.

"It’s close," D'Antoni said of Gasol's return to game action.

Gasol was originally slated to be sidelined a minimum of six to eight weeks with the injury. He will not need further evaluation by a doctor in order to return. It will be a joint decision by Gasol, the coaching staff and trainer Gary Vitti.

D'Antoni said he "hopes" to have Gasol back at practice next week when L.A. has three days off between its road game Monday in Phoenix and its home game Friday against Washington.

D'Antoni has not said whether he will bring Gasol off the bench when the forward returns, but said definitively it will be a challenge to keep the Lakers' pick-and-roll game flowing with another 7-footer on the floor.

"It’s going to be harder," D'Antoni said. "Spacing is a little better the way it is (with Gasol out); we’ll have to figure some things out, but he gives us so much else -- great passer, different things -- so we’ll just have to figure the spacing out."

Even though the Lakers had won eight of 10 games since the All-Star break without Gasol heading into Tuesday night's game at Orlando, D'Antoni said the team cannot reach its full potential without Gasol.

"We’re playing a lot better than we were," D'Antoni said. "We still got to get Pau back and get him integrated to get up to that top tier. We’re still not quite there."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
24.6 5.0 1.4 35.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.3
AssistsK. Bryant 5.0
StealsK. Bryant 1.4
BlocksE. Davis 1.2