From Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Los Angeles: Lakers guard Steve Nash, who hasn’t played since fracturing his leg on Halloween, is hoping to return Saturday against Golden State barring a setback in practice this week, a source close to the player confirmed for ESPNLosAngeles.com. ”That’s the plan,” the source said. On Monday, a team source labeled Nash returning on Saturday as “50-50.” Nash and forward Pau Gasol returned to practice on Monday. Gasol, who has been out for close to two weeks to rest tendinitis in both knees, also appears close to returning to game action. On Monday he said he would play Tuesday night against theCharlotte Bobcats if he feels good after the Lakers’ morning shootaround. Nash has been out for six weeks with a nondisplaced fracture in his left leg. He said Monday that he’s hopeful to “play by Christmas” if his leg responds well to the increased activity and he’s able to get back into game shape. The optimism of their imminent returns comes at a time when the struggling Lakers (11-14) sit 12th in a Western Conference they were expected to dominate. They finished a four-game road trip with wins in Washington on Friday and Sunday in Philadelphia.
From Jason Whitlock, Fox Sports: The return of Pau Gasol and Steve Nash to the lineup is likely to mask most, if not all, the symptoms afflicting the underachieving Los Angeles Lakers. But the perennial all-stars will do nothing to address the disease lurking deep inside the foundation of the Lakers, the malady that will prevent the high-priced collection of veterans from getting past the Thunder, Spurs or even the Grizzlies come playoff time. The root cause of the Lakers’ dysfunction has been consistent for 15 years. It is Kobe Bryant’s ego, his desperate pursuit of Michael Jordan’s legacy. L.A.’s Dwight Howard experiment is going to explode and implode in spectacular fashion unless someone in the Lakers organization is bold enough to kill Kobe’s Michael Jordan avatar so that Howard’s Bill Russell avatar can emerge and lead the Lakers. You follow?
From Janis Carr, OC Register: Steve Nash and Pau Gasol took part in the Lakers’ short practice Monday, which not only lifted the team’s spirits and but raised hopes that brighter days lay ahead. Nash, who has not played since suffering a fractured left leg in the second game of the season, said he could be back by Christmas, while Gasol, who missed eight games because of tendinitis in his knees, could return to the lineup tonight against the Charlotte Bobcats. Gasol is considered a game-time decision. ”To be fair, I’m starting to get excited just because I’m able to do some things,” said Nash, who tested his stamina in running drills. “The majority of the last six weeks I’ve been inactive, so its nice to be able to get out there with the guys and see the light at the end of the tunnel.” Gasol said he was happy how his knees felt after his first practice session with the team in two weeks, adding that he can move “much better. I can push off with my knees and legs without pain, so that’s better.” With Gasol on the sideline, the Lakers struggled, losing to lower-level teams such as Cleveland, Utah and Houston and falling to 9-14 before winning their past two games. But with his return and Nash’s comeback on the horizon, things are looking up.
From Sam Amick, USA Today: Oh, Andrew. You’re speaking the truth about the Los Angeles Lakers… NOW? You’re talking about Kobe Bryant stunting your growth and the need for more post play and an inside-out offense now, when you’ve long since been sent to Philadelphia and you nor your argument have a leg to stand on anymore? Talk about better never than late. Andrew Bynum, the Sixers center who finally took the filter off with reporters on Sunday on the topic of why it never worked as well as it should have during his seven seasons with the Lakers, should have been saying these things when there was still time to do something about it. The Lakers were a flawed team during his later years in Los Angeles, and he knew it better than anyone.
From Eric Pincus, LA Times: The Lakers have missed Pau Gasol. Before he sat down with tendinitis, he wasn’t playing his best basketball, but the team fell apart in his absence, winning just three of eight. ”Another 7-footer in the lineup and probably the most skilled big guy in the league,” said Coach Mike D’Antoni. “He’s important. There’s no doubt about it.” Unless Gasol wakes up Tuesday with additional soreness in his knees, he’ll return to the lineup against the Charlotte Bobcats. ”I can move around much, much better,” said Gasol, “without pain.” D’Antoni still needs to figure out how to get Dwight Howard and Gasol to fit together. It’s not a given that the two are a championship combination. Before Howard’s arrival, former Lakers great Jerry West had told Dan Patrick (radio) that he wasn’t sure whether Gasol and Andrew Bynum would work. Coach Phil Jackson primarily used Lamar Odom with Gasol through the team’s championship runs. As Bynum evolved into the team’s second option, behind Kobe Bryant, Gasol struggled. Last year Gasol was exposed in the playoffs, trying to stretch the floor for Bynum. This season, whether in Mike Brown’s Princeton hybrid or Mike D’Antoni’s system, Gasol is just uncomfortable playing far from the basket. ”Everybody wants everybody in the post. You know, we can’t put 15 guys down there in the post. We can’t do it. It doesn’t work,” said D’Antoni. “Because if you’re posting him up, it means you’re not posting Dwight up and then you get criticized for not posting Dwight up.” Without Gasol, the Lakers are far worse, but with a suitable replacement would the team reach even greater heights?