Gasol to play through strained foot

LOS ANGELES -- Pau Gasol underwent an MRI last week that showed a muscle strain in his left foot, the Los Angeles Lakers forward revealed to reporters after his team's 116-95 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday.

"I had a strained muscle there," Gasol said. "It's feeling better now. It's feeling a little better."

Gasol missed 20 games last season after suffering a plantar fascia tear in his right foot, and he said the two injuries could be linked.

"Now it's the left foot, maybe compensating," Gasol said. "Things like that happen. ... Hopefully we can keep it under control."

Said Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni before the game Tuesday: "He's a big guy that takes a pounding, but he knows how to deal with it."

The injury had been bothering Gasol since the end of training camp. The four-time All-Star was worried there might be nerve damage in the foot, prompting the MRI.

Gasol, who recently recovered from a respiratory issue that he also had been fighting since the beginning of the season, finished with 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting, eight rebounds, three assists and a block against New Orleans. It was just the second time in nine games this season that the 7-footer shot 50 percent or better from the field. He is averaging 12.1 points, 10.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists with 38.2 percent shooting through the Lakers' 4-5 start.

"I definitely physically feel a little better," Gasol said. "I was able to put a better effort together. I was sharper. I would like to continue to shoot over 50 percent if I can. I felt good. It was a good overall game."

D'Antoni said the team needed Gasol more than ever with Kobe Bryant (Achilles) and Steve Nash (back, hamstring) sidelined.

"I think Pau knows that he has to lead us," D'Antoni said. "He has to be the guy that dominates the game, more or less. We got to get him into position to be able to do that. Again, it's not just one guy, but he's the most talented guy we have on the team and he'll have to be our leader."

The Lakers have used six starting lineups through their first nine games, something that has taken some getting used to for Gasol, who has been moved from the center spot to playing out of the high post at power forward.

"If I'm going to play more with Jordan [Hill] and Chris [Kaman], which are more of interior guys, I'll have to find ways to get involved and not just be standing on the 3-point line or be too far away from the basket," Gasol said.

The 13-year veteran explained why he was reluctant to divulge his foot injury sooner.

"It was sore a lot of times but I don't like to talk about things like that because they sound like excuses," Gasol said. "I don't like to make excuses when things go wrong."