Lakers' Gasol to miss rest of road trip with sprained ankle

( dpa ) - Spanish star Pau Gasol will miss the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers' road trip with a sprained left ankle suffered in Friday night's loss at New Orleans.

A statement on the team's web site Saturday said Gasol's injury will be reassessed in the "next few days to determine the full extent of the injury."

Gasol suffered the injury just 2 1/2 minutes into Friday's 108-98 loss to the Hornets, which began a four-game road trip for the Lakers.

He needed assistance to get to the locker room and underwent X-rays, which were negative. It is possible that Gasol will have an MRI this week.

At the very least, the Lakers said he will miss games Sunday at Houston, Tuesday at Dallas and Thursday at Utah - all projected playoff teams. The Lakers' next home game is Friday against Seattle.

The Lakers already are without improving young center Andrew Bynum, who is out with a knee injury and not expected to return until April. They likely will use a combination of forwards Lamar Odom, French native Ronny Turiaf and Serbian Vladimir Radmanovic to fill the void.

The 7-foot Gasol has become an integral part of the Lakers' success since joining the team in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies on February 1. He spent his first six-plus seasons with Memphis but had been unhappy there over the last two seasons and frequently had been mentioned in trade rumors.

Gasol, 27, is averaging 18.8 points and 7.9 rebounds while shooting a remarkable 58 per cent from the field in 19 games with Los Angeles. The Lakers have gone 15-4 since acquiring Gasol, climbing to the top of the rugged Western Conference with a 45-20 record.

The 2002 NBA Rookie of the Year, Gasol has averaged 18.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.8 blocks in 495 career games. He was an All-Star in 2006 with the Grizzlies and is that franchise's all- time leading scorer.

Gasol was the MVP of the 2006 World Championships, leading Spain to an undefeated record, the gold medal and an automatic berth in this summer's Olympics in Beijing. But he suffered a broken foot in the semifinals and missed the first 22 games of the 2006-07 season.

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