By MIKE BRESNAHAN, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES
BOSTON — Lakers forward Pau Gasol is sidelined indefinitely after sustaining a tear in the bottom of his right foot Tuesday against the Brooklyn Nets.
Gasol planned to fly back to Los Angeles on Thursday for further medical evaluation. The Lakers declined to release a timetable for his return after an MRI exam in Boston revealed a torn plantar fascia Wednesday.
“I’m hoping to recover asap so I can be back with the team and keep fighting until the end of the season. #GoLakers #AlwaysPositive,” Gasol wrote Wednesday on his Twitter account.
Gasol was more nervous than resolute a day earlier about his injury.
“I’m worried about it,” he said after scoring 15 points in the Lakers’ 92-83 victory Tuesday. “I never felt anything like I did tonight.”
The sentiment was shared by Kobe Bryant, a longtime proponent of Gasol, who said he was “very, very concerned” about the severity of the injury after Tuesday’s game.
The plantar fascia is located in the arch of the foot, and Gasol has been bothered throughout this season by painful swelling in the same area, called plantar fasciitis.
He aggravated the foot earlier in Tuesday’s game and said he later felt a pop in it after jumping to block the shot of Nets center Brook Lopez with 4:23 to play. Gasol stayed down on the court for several seconds and remained in the game after a 20-second timeout but started limping while trying to run and headed for the locker room. He needed crutches after the game to leave the locker room.
Gasol will meet with Lakers doctor Steven Lombardo and foot specialist Kenneth Jung on Thursday.
Until the Lakers come out with a firm timetable, there are only estimates as to how long Gasol will be out.
Veteran Chicago guard Richard Hamilton missed 12 games in December because of a torn plantar fascia.
Veteran Washington center Nene recently revealed he sustained a torn plantar fascia last season while with Denver, an injury that cost him 10 games after being traded to the Wizards. Nene also sat out the first nine games of this season for foot-related reasons.
Keith Feder, a Manhattan Beach orthopedic surgeon, said the “overall return to play is between two to six weeks” for a torn plantar fascia.
“It’s not uncommon for it to occur for a patient who has had plantar fasciitis in the past,” said Feder, who had not seen the results of Gasol’s MRI exam. “Very often, the return to play is based on the pain and swelling. It’s usually treated with a walking cast or a boot and anti-inflammatory medication. Generally, there is no surgery involved.”
The Lakers (23-26) play the Boston Celtics on Thursday, the fifth of seven games on their annual Grammy trip. They have won six of their last seven games but are perilously thin in the front court.
Dwight Howard has sat out the last three games and remains day to day because of a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
Without Howard and Gasol, the Lakers were forced to use power forward Earl Clark at center in the final minutes against the Nets. The only other healthy big man on Lakers’ roster was rookie Robert Sacre.
The Lakers get Metta World Peace back for Thursday’s game after a one-game NBA-imposed suspension. World Peace has played backup center in spurts for the Lakers this season.
Gasol is averaging 13.4 points and eight rebounds; he came off the bench for six games until Howard reinjured his shoulder. Gasol has missed several games this season — eight because of tendinitis in his knees and five because of a concussion.
Reserve center-forward Jordan Hill underwent season-ending hip surgery last month, another reason the Lakers are lacking post players.
The NBA granted the Lakers a disabled-player exception because of Hill’s injury, but the Lakers were taking a wait-and-see approach before it expired March 11. The exception can be used to sign a free agent for $1.8 million or to acquire a player in a trade who makes up to $1.9 million.
Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan ___
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