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Lakers' Gasol expects to return for Heat showdown

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 16, 2013 at 6:48 pm •  Published: January 16, 2013
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Gasol said he doesn't care whether Earl Clark remains in the starting lineup when he returns, although D'Antoni has said Gasol is his starter when ready. Gasol is just grateful to be back on the court after the first concussion of his life.

Gasol's mother is a physician, and Pau attended a year of medical school before entering the NBA draft a decade ago.

"It's been a learning experience," said Gasol, who is averaging a career-low 12.2 points and 8.4 rebounds. "Just to learn the symptoms, the struggling of getting up every day and not feeling better, just having a constant headache, being bothered by light and noise and not knowing what the next day is going to be like and not knowing when you're going to be back and healthy."

Gasol also researched his injury, learning that athletes with multiple concussions are at larger risk for serious complications. He can't deny thinking about the long-term effects, but won't allow it to stop him from playing hard down low.

"It's an unfortunate hit, but those can happen any day at any time," Gasol said. "You have to be careful. It's a brain injury, and without a brain, we don't function. Potentially there's damage now. You have to reset your brain. You struggle with stuff you'd never think you'd struggle with. It's been a process, and I'm finally turning the corner, so now I just hope I don't get hit again."

Howard has played well in the Lakers' last two wins, racking up 53 points and 30 rebounds against the Cavaliers and Bucks. Bryant and Steve Nash have made a visible effort to get the ball to the easygoing big man near the hoop, and Howard has predictably capitalized.

The equation sounds simple, but the Lakers haven't maximized their size advantages with Howard and Gasol this season. Howard believes the Lakers still have plenty of time to get the most out of their ample talent.

"Things are always going to be said when you're not winning and everybody is expecting us to blow everybody out," Howard said. "So when we do lose, some people search for why we're losing, but we've just got to stay patient, stay together and believe. When we stay focused and we stay together, we'll be great.

"We're learning, but stuff like that takes time. The biggest thing, we've just got to stick together. We can't let nothing on the outside tear us apart."