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Bryant, Gasol In vs. Wizards



The longtime one-two punch of the Los Angeles Lakers is back.

According to sources, the Lakers will welcome back Pau Gasol and superstar SG Kobe Bryant against the Washington Wizards on Friday night.

Gasol has been out for the better part of the 2013 season. In fact, he has sat the last 20 games with a right foot injury, while the team went 13-7. The 7-foot Spaniard has only played in 33 games this season, fighting off tendinitis in his knees and a concussion earlier this season. He was initially said to be coming off the bench in Friday’s matchup, but after head coach Mike D’Antoni watched him shootaround, he was sold to let the four-time All-Star play with the first unit.

“The reason being he’ll warm up. He feels better when he gets warmed up and gets going instead of sitting over there for about 10-20 minutes and then playing,” D’Antoni said. “He’s more comfortable that way, and that’s what twe’re going to end up anyway, so we might as well go ahead.”

D’Antoni also announced that he would limit Gasol’s minutes until he can get back in game-shape. Meanwhile, he put no such restrictions on Bryant as he returns for the first time after suffering an ugly sprained left ankle. He has only missed two games.

This will only be the third game all season that the core group of Lakers (Dwight Howard, Steve Nash, Metta World Peace, Bryant and Gasol) have played together.

“It’s good to have [Gasol] back,” said Howard after shootaround. “When he was out, it as tough for guys like Earl [Clark] and Antawn [Jamison] to really defend in the paint because they’re usually good perimeter defenders. So having another guy back there is going to be good for the team. Now those guys get to go back to their normal positions and do what they do best.”

The Lakers should handle the Wizards to push forward as the eight and final seed in the Western Conference. They are currently 1.5 games back of seventh-place Houston and only 2.5 games back of sixth-place Golden State.

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