Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni confirmed that Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol will return to the lineup on Friday against the Washington Wizards, but he left the issue of whether Gasol will start a bit murky. Gasol tore the plantar fascia in his right foot six weeks ago, but a recent ultrasound on his foot revealed that he has healed well. The issue of starting or coming off the bench has been a delicate one with Gasol, so D'Antoni merely said that the veteran big man will 'probably' start over Earl Clark against Washington.
The Lakers have moved 1.5 games ahead of the Utah Jazz for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, and with Utah taking on the Spurs in San Antonio on Friday they are in line to create even more space in the playoff race. The Lakers have won seven of their last 10 games overall. At Lakers blog Silver Screen and Roll, there is a bit of concern about how D'Antoni has condensed his rotations, so the return of Gasol and Bryant could help ease the stress put on the active roster.