Brooklyn Nets' Brook Lopez, right, shoots over Los Angeles Lakers' Pau Gasol during the first half of the NBA basketball game at the Barclays Center Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013 in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) — Pau Gasol was diagnosed with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot Wednesday, indefinitely sidelining the 7-foot Spaniard at a key point in the Los Angeles Lakers' belated rally to get in playoff position.
Gasol felt a pop in his foot Tuesday night late in the Lakers' 92-83 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. An MRI in Boston revealed the injury.
The Lakers (23-26) are losing Gasol right when their mostly miserable season is starting to improve with six wins in seven games, including three straight on their longest road trip of the season. Los Angeles also played the last three games without All-Star center Dwight Howard, who has a torn labrum in his right shoulder, and top backup big man Jordan Hill is out for the season with an injured hip.
"I'm hoping to recover asap so I can be back with the team and keep fighting until the end of the season," Gasol tweeted.
Gasol will fly to Los Angeles on Thursday to be examined by team physician Steve Lombardo and foot specialist Kenneth Jung. The Lakers announced they will give a timeline for Gasol's return after the examination, but the injury conceivably could keep Gasol out for several weeks or more if he undergoes surgery to repair the damage.
Gasol has been bothered by tendinitis in both knees and fasciitis for at least two months, hindering his progress since shortly after new coach Mike D'Antoni took over. The four-time All-Star big man also missed five games in January with a concussion, and Gasol largely has been coming off the bench for the Lakers since then.
Gasol is averaging a career-low 13.4 points per game and 8.0 rebounds while playing in just 36 of the Lakers' 49 games.
The Lakers finish their seven-game road trip with three games in four days, starting Thursday in Boston and concluding Sunday in Miami. Rookie center Robert Sacre is available to D'Antoni, and Howard isn't certain when he'll return from an injury that's troublesome, but likely manageable.
Salary cap-strapped Los Angeles could sign a replacement for Gasol after getting a disabled player's exception last week for Hill, who had season-ending hip surgery. But the pool of available free-agent big men is awfully thin, including Lakers retreads such as Troy Murphy and Brian Cook.