It seems the weight of carrying a sinking team may have finally bogged down Pau Gasol.
LA's leading scorer and rebounder admitted after yesterday's loss to the Charlotte Bobcats that he'll be receiving a MRI today on his groin, which has bothered him for over a week. Right now he's questionable to go on the team's upcoming three game road trip that begins on Tuesday, with contests in Minnesota, Cleveland and Philadelphia.
If Gasol has been injured over the past several games, it hasn't showed. Over the past five games, Pau has averaged 21 points, 11 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.2 blocks on .530 FG%...all of which have been in Lakers losses. In short, offensively anyway, he's been an All-Star caliber player on a lottery-bound squad.
However, it's been his defense that's really been hurting the Lakers. It's been partially Gasol's fault that the Lakers haven't given up less than 100 points since their first game in January, when they surrendered "only" 99 points to the Utah Jazz. Pau has been counted on to be a rim protector for the hapless Lake Show, a responsibility he's never been able to fully grasp almost his entire career. Now, at age 33, coming off of knee surgeries and hobbled with a groin injury, it's only gotten worse. It's hard to put this completely on Gasol, as a porous perimeter defense and poor help defense haven't made it easier on him, but the fact is that he's been assigned the main line of paint defense and has failed spectacularly.
With Jordan Farmar, Steve Blake and perhaps the wayward Steve Nash returning in just a few days, it's extremely poor timing if Gasol were to exit with an injury. Not only that, but as the trade deadline approaches, it's imperative that Pau be healthy if the Lakers were to once again court opportunities to trade him.
Just another day in a increasingly depressing Lakers season.
--Follow this author @TheGreatMambino