Gasol to join Lakers on Texas trip

Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol continues to improve but will not play against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday, missing his fourth straight game after straining his left hamstring in the first quarter of the Lakers game against the Dallas Mavericks a week ago.

Gasol said he experienced soreness after working out on Saturday and has not targeted a return date.

"It was the first day that I tried the treadmill and we stopped because there was soreness," Gasol said. "Today we're going to try it again and see how it goes."

His workout consists of warming up the hamstring, receiving treatment and then working out on an elliptical machine and a treadmill, increasing the speed until the pain prevents him from proceeding.

Gasol said there was a chance that he would participate in a full practice with the team on Monday, but it would depend on how he feels based on his pregame workout on Sunday.

The nine-year veteran said he would be ready to return to the lineup when the pain is gone and he isn't afraid of tearing the muscle to a greater degree.

Lakers head coach Phil Jackson described Gasol's injury as a Grade 1 strain with "an insignificant amount of tear" as opposed to the more serious Grade 2 strain Gasol suffered in his right hamstring that caused him to miss the first 11 games of the season.

Gasol said that his lengthy rehabilitation of the previous hamstring injury is causing him to go slow this time around.

"Just by the experience of the other one, I was out a little longer because of testing it too many times and trying to take a step forward every single day," Gasol said. "I'm extra cautious because what I did with the other [right] hamstring.

"I can feel the pulling. I feel that it's not a matter of discomfort. If the pain is there and it increases when you do activity, then you're not in a good place."

Gasol said that the left hamstring injury is milder than his right one was.

"When I'm doing normal things I don't feel anything, which is better than the other time when I did feel it when I was walking up stairs, bending down, picking things up from the floor and things like that," Gasol said. "But not this time."

Gasol said he plans to travel with the team on its Texas two-step through San Antonio and Dallas on Tuesday and Wednesday, but did not know if he will be able to play.

Los Angeles has gone 1-2 without the 7-footer and his averages of 16.8 points and 11.5 rebounds in the lineup.

"It's very hard, very, very hard to be there and see the team not playing well and losing [with me] not being out there," Gasol said. "It's extremely hard. I wish we won all the games that I'm not playing so I can focus on my recovery and not have to go through the stress of watching the team struggle and not being able to help."

Dave McMenamin is a writer and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.