Gasol will be a game-time decision Tuesday night when the Lakers try for their 18th straight home win over the Jazz, losers of eight straight.
Los Angeles (55-21) had its nine-game win streak snapped with a 95-90 home loss to Denver on Sunday, but any extended loss of Gasol would make the defeat worse. Gasol was fouled by Nene on a dunk and crashed to the floor holding his right knee with 9:17 left in the third quarter, and went to the dressing room before returning to the game.
Gasol has been diagnosed with a right knee bone bruise.
“I feel actually a little better than I did last night, which is a good sign,” Gasol said Monday. “I feel good about it.”
Gasol has averaged 19.0 points on 64.9 percent shooting and 9.0 rebounds to help Los Angeles go 2-1 against Utah (36-41) this season. He feels the injury could have been much worse.
“It was a scary moment for me but I was able to get up and while I was walking the pain was kind of decreasing, so that’s a good sign too,” Gasol said.
The Lakers fell 2 1/2 games behind San Antonio for the best record in the Western Conference. That’s the same margin they lead Dallas by for the No. 2 seed.
Los Angeles needs five more wins to reach 60 for the 12th time and third under coach Phil Jackson. All seven of Jackson’s teams to reach 60 victories won the NBA title, including five times with Chicago.
It’s clear that the coach’s methods that have earned him the moniker the “Zen Master” have had a positive effect on the Lakers.
“You don’t get too high, you don’t get too low,” guard Kobe Bryant(notes) said. “You don’t listen to the praises, you don’t listen to the criticisms. You just go out there and do your job, and you do it the best you can.”
Including the playoffs, the Lakers have not lost at home to the Jazz since Jan. 1, 2006.
Los Angeles put five players in double figures in a 96-85 victory at Utah on Friday, rallying from a six-point halftime deficit. Jackson felt the grueling effort a day after a huge win over Dallas was a reason for the Lakers’ loss Sunday.
“To get in at 3:30 in the morning and then have to really put it down to beat Utah instead of having a game in which we probably could have had a great energy at the start and maybe have a laugher as we went through it,” Jackson said. “It was a game that took a lot out of us to play, and guys were still exhausted from that game.”
Utah has not lost nine straight since March 4-19, 2005. That 2004-05 season is the lone losing campaign for the Jazz in the previous 27 seasons.
They are one loss away from another one after allowing Sacramento to shoot 51.9 percent in Sunday’s 106-97 loss.
“They shot the ball well,” coach Tyrone Corbin said. “Our defense was not there.”
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