It’s not all bad news on the injury front for the Los Angeles Lakers, who are clinging on to the final Playoff spot in the Western Conference. Pau Gasol should return to game action next week, and according to the LA Times, Mike D’Antoni will re-insert him into the starting lineup: “Pau Gasol will return soon from torn plantar fascia in his right foot. The only game he ruled out was Friday at Indiana. ‘Everything else is possible. I’m not going to hold myself back if I think I’m ready to play,’ Gasol said Wednesday. ‘There’s not many games left in the season and every game will be valuable to us. We’re keeping our options open. We’re trying to see how I progress over the next few days.’ After Friday, the Lakers play Sunday against Sacramento and Monday in Phoenix, each possible return dates, though their next game after that, March 22 against Washington, gives Gasol an extra three days of recovery time. He hasn’t played since Feb. 5 against Brooklyn. The Lakers initially said he would be sidelined at least six to eight weeks, and in a rare spot of good injury news for them this season, the six-week mark would be Tuesday, meaning he might return earlier than expected. He will also be a starter. Gasol was essentially coming off the bench when he was injured, though he had started a few games while Dwight Howard dealt with a torn labrum in his shoulder. Gasol will return to the starting lineup next week in place of struggling Earl Clark, unless conditioning reasons force him to come off the bench for a game or two, an unlikely event. Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni doesn’t want to repeat the distractions caused by Gasol’s demotion to reserve status, according to a person familiar with the situation.”
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