Los Angeles Lakers big man Pau Gasol will play on Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks after missing their last two games with an upper respiratory infection, Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni said on Monday:
.@paugasol will play tomorrow vs. Milwaukee, according to coach Mike D'Antoni. He went through a full practice today.— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 30, 2013
Gasol has been dealing with the upper respiratory infection for more than a week. He missed Los Angeles' game against the Golden State Warriors on Dec. 21, then played on Dec. 23 and 25 before sitting out the Lakers' last two games.
Gasol has received some criticism for being on the sidelines recently, with ESPN's Dave McMenamin reporting that he could have played:
It was Gasol's decision to sit out as his team extended its season-high losing streak to five with a 111-104 defeat to Philly. It's not like he has been bedridden or completely unable to exert himself physically. According to a team source, Gasol still showed up to Lakers shootaround to lift weights Sunday, and when he told longtime trainer Gary Vitti he wanted more time to get over the infection and was not going to play against the Sixers, Vitti said to not even bother showing up to the game.
Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding was much harsher than that, saying that Gasol was "missing the drive to compete, much less the will to win" and that he should be ashamed of himself. Oof.
D'Antoni "dismissed the notion" that Gasol was choosing not to play, via Mark Medina of the LA Daily News. Gasol himself said that, while he tried to play through the ailment, he was "getting killed by not performing," via Medina. After practice, he certainly seemed to be ill, via Janis Carr of the OC Register:
As he headed off the practice court, Gasol stopped and coughed up a chunk of mucus before talking to media. Yes, he is sick— janis carr (@janiscarr) December 30, 2013
The Lakers are dealing with an assortment of injuries. As well as being without Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Steve Blake, Xavier Henry hurt his right knee in Sunday night's loss to the Philadelphia 76ers and had an MRI done on Monday. Chris Kaman got treatment on his ankle instead of practicing on Monday and Jordan Farmar sat out of practice because of tightness in his hamstring.
Gasol is averaging 14.7 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.3 blocks in 30 minutes per game this season. Los Angeles has lost five games in a row and is 13-18 on the year.