As expected Pau Gasol returned to the court last night. The Los Angeles Lakers had their All-Star forward back in the lineup for the first time since December 2nd. His return signified a new hope for the team, but it is going to take time. The Lakers beat the Charlotte Bobcats last night with Gasol back, but just barely.
The Lakers won 101-100 against one of the worst teams in the league last night, but they are getting closer to being healthy and able to fully run coach Mike D'Antoni's offense. Steve Nash is expected to return soon, and with the entire team healthy, they can truly judge whether this team can turn things around. Gasol was the first piece though, and he is back.
Gasol struggled in his return to the court. He was 3-for-10 shooting and had just 10 points. However, he felt good and had good stamina for the most part.
"My stamina was good," Gasol said. "I think I kept up with them pretty well and I pushed through those times when I got a little fatigued. I was pretty active and my knees are feeling much better than they were. I just have to be more confident out there."Gasol has had a rough season so far. He played through knee tendinitis early in the year, but it eventually sidelined him. When he was playing, though, he was largely ineffective. The Lakers may be open to trading him down the line, but they want to see how he performs in the same lineup as Steve Nash.
The team will have to evaluate their situation quickly when Nash returns. They are 12-14 on the season and can't afford to play sub-.500 ball any longer.