Ga­sol’s en­ergy comes eas­ily

Lak­ers for­ward picks non-com­pet­i­tive pur­suits in off-sea­son, and feels bet­ter for it.

Los Angeles Times - - Sports - Mike Bres­na­han

The sum­mer itin­er­ary couldn’t have been any bet­ter for Pau Ga­sol.

Win an NBA cham­pi­onship in June. Go to South Africa a few weeks later to watch home coun­try Spain win soc­cer’s World Cup. Teach teenagers how to play bas­ket­ball on an NBA-spon­sored trip to In­dia in Au­gust. Head to Spain for some down­time in Septem­ber.

A tax­ing sum­mer it was not, by de­sign.

The Lak­ers for­ward didn’t play for the Span­ish bas­ket­ball team in the world cham­pi­onships and didn’t do any­thing com­pet­i­tively un­til some one-on-one a cou­ple of weeks ago against his brother, Mem­phis Griz­zlies cen­ter Marc Ga­sol.

Af­ter years of de­vot­ing his off-sea­son to the Span­ish team, Ga­sol ex­pe­ri­enced his first quiet sum­mer since 2005, when he was told by Mem­phis doc­tors to stay off his feet be­cause of a de­vel­op­ing stress frac­ture in his foot. This time, Ga­sol stayed off the court sim­ply be­cause he had been on one so long.

“Last year, I came in a lit-

tle worn out,” he said Sun­day. “I wasn’t re­ally fresh. I was a lit­tle fa­tigued and over­loaded.”

In­deed, he sus­tained two sep­a­rate ham­string strains that side­lined him for 17 games early last sea­son. The Lak­ers hope he’s well-rested now be­cause An­drew Bynum will miss about 15 games be­cause of off-sea­son knee surgery.

“I feel good about how fresh I am and how my body’s feel­ing and my mind’s feel­ing,” Ga­sol said. “I’m com­ing into it with a lot of en­ergy and I’m just ready to go to work and get my­self ready for a long year.”

Wait, how long?

Bynum’s timetable to re­turn shifted again Sun­day when Coach Phil Jack­son said he ex­pected the 22year-old to be back slightly sooner than ex­pected.

Jack­son dis­agreed with Bynum’s procla­ma­tion a day ear­lier that he would be out un­til late Novem­ber.

“We don’t know about that,” Jack­son said. “We’ll see.”

Bynum might miss only the first two to three weeks of the sea­son, Jack­son said. The Lak­ers be­gin play Oct. 26 against Hous­ton.


Guard Steve Blake sus­tained a mildly sprained left an­kle af­ter be­ing shoved by Sasha Vu­jacic near the end of prac­tice Sun­day.

“Sasha gave him a lit­tle ex­tra push,” Jack­son said. “It’s a highly com­pet­i­tive drill we end with. These things hap­pen.”

The in­jury is not con­sid­ered to be se­ri­ous, though Blake might be held out of prac­tice Mon­day. The Lak­ers leave Thurs­day for Europe, where they play ex­hi­bi­tion games Oct. 4 in London and Oct. 7 in Spain.

Ac­tion Jack­son

Health is al­ways a con­cern for Jack­son, some­thing he gauges over the sum­mer be­fore mak­ing a de­ci­sion to coach again.

Jack­son is back with the Lak­ers, sport­ing a neatly trimmed gray beard, look­ing ready to lead his team in its quest to win a third con­sec­u­tive cham­pi­onship.

“He looks bet­ter than he did last year,” Kobe Bryant said. “He looks great. He has a lot of en­ergy. He’s mov­ing around ex­tremely well. He looks good.”

As for Bryant, the right knee he had surgery on over the sum­mer is im­prov­ing. He hasn’t prac­ticed with the team, but he did a lit­tle work on his own Sun­day.

“I’m just try­ing to take it step by step,” Bryant said. “I’m con­tin­u­ing try­ing to progress ev­ery day.”

The new ones

On the sec­ond day of train­ing camp, Jack­son had kind words for Blake and four other Lak­ers new­com­ers — vet­er­ans Matt Barnes and Theo Ratliff, and rook­ies Der­rick Car­ac­ter and Devin Ebanks.

“Ev­ery one of them has a part of their game that is a rea­son why we brought them here,” Jack­son said. “Car­ac­ter’s a tremen­dous of­fen­sive re­bounder and he’s a real phys­i­cal force in there. Matt showed some speed and quick­ness. Theo made some jump shots and blocked some shots out there. Steve Blake had a big in­flu­ence on our prac­tice to­day, just or­ga­niz­ing his team. Devin Ebanks is very ac­tive and looks like he’ll be a pretty good de­fender too.”

Ga­sol vs. Ga­sol

So who won the se­ries of one-on-one games be­tween Pau and Marc Ga­sol this month?

“I can say that I won, with­out ly­ing,” Pau Ga­sol said.

The two broth­ers played a se­ries of games over three days in a work­out fa­cil­ity owned by Re­gal FC Barcelona, the team the Lak­ers play next week in an ex­hi­bi­tion.

It was brains ver­sus brawn: Pau is the more skilled player, but Marc out­weighs his older brother by at least 15 pounds.

“He uses his body a lot, and it’s good for me,” Pau said. “There’s a lot of push­ing and shov­ing.”


Wally Skalij

Pau Ga­sol had a qui­eter sum­mer.

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