MikeCheck: Gasol back to work after scary fall in Sacramento, plans to play Saturday against Suns
MEMPHIS – Two days after collapsing to the court with neck soreness from a collision, Grizzlies’ center Marc Gasol went through practice and intends to play in Saturday’s game against the Suns.
Gasol confirmed Friday that an MRI test did not reveal any structural damage to his neck and that some of the initial soreness and stiffness have eased the past 36 hours with treatment.
“I went through everything, and it feels much better,” Gasol said of participating in Friday’s scrimmage sessions in practice after Wednesday’s fall. “It was a bad scare when it happened, but thankfully, imaging showed there was no structural damage and nothing was too bad. I should be able to go.”
The Grizzlies (2-2) are already enduring a painful season, especially along their frontcourt. Gasol left Wednesday’s game midway through the fourth quarter and didn’t return in the Grizzlies’ 97-92 loss to the Kings. He collided with Kings’ guard De’Aaron Fox, whose arm struck Gasol across the neck and left shoulder as the two pursued a rebound in the lane.
Replays showed Grizzlies’ forward Kyle Anderson also fell awkwardly into both Gasol and Fox on the play. Gasol fell immediately to the floor beneath the basket, where he was almost motionless as play was eventually stopped and trainers from both teams rushed to his aid on the court.
The 7-1, 255-pound Gasol was on the court for several moments before he was helped to his feet and led directly to the locker room. An X-ray taken at Sacramento’s Golden1 Center was negative, and Gasol underwent a follow-up MRI when the team returned to Memphis on Thursday. Gasol had been dealing with back soreness that left his status in question before last Friday’s home opener, but he played through it in that night’s victory against the Hawks. He said Friday that his back was no longer an issue.
Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff was relieved to see Gasol back on his feet and productive at practice, considering the level of initial concern coaches and players had after the game in Sacramento.
“First, you care more about him (as a person) more than anything else,” Bickerstaff said Friday of Gasol. “When he went down, you don’t (normally) see him go down like that. So I was more nervous for him and his health in general. Him being able to function and get up and walk off, it’s slightly improved. And then to see him today, that was most important to me.”
As the team’s third-leading scorer and top rebounder, Gasol is averaging 13.5 points, nine boards and three assists. His availability is essential for a team that’s already lost starting power forward JaMychal Green for at least a month after surgery to repair a broken jaw he suffered in the home opener.
And on Friday, Bickerstaff also confirmed that starting small forward Chandler Parsons had a recent MRI and could be sidelined a few more games with knee soreness. Parsons missed Wednesday’s game in Sacramento and he played just six minutes during Monday’s victory in Utah.
“We want to be cautious with him,” Bickerstaff said of Parsons, who entered training camp healthy but has battled knee issues throughout his three seasons in Memphis. “We don’t want to put him in a situation where he’s coming back, going back out and coming back. We want him to get healthy first and be able to come back and play in bulk instead of in spot minutes.”
Gasol said some of the early injuries have contributed to the team’s uneven play through four games. The Grizzlies also added five new players to the rotation this season, and establishing chemistry has been a work in progress. Point guard Mike Conley said the team showed the upside of what it’s capable of accomplishing during the 92-84 road win against the Jazz. But the painful setback in Sacramento also revealed how much patience is still required in the process.
“Losing a game like that (in Sacramento) kind of ruined that trip for us in a sense, because when you get a win like that in Utah, which is hard to come by, you want to build on it,” Conley said. “But we’ve got a home game, and we’ve got to get back to work. We have a team that’s built on depth, and having guys available is a key. Hopefully we can get guys some rehab, get back healthy and get back on track.”
When he went down, you don’t (normally) see him go down like that. So I was more nervous for him and his health in general. Him being able to function and get up and walk off, it’s slightly improved. And then to see him today, that was most important to me.J.B. Bickerstaff
Gasol said he’ll continue to get general treatment to keep his neck loose and warm, but he’s ready to get back to game action.
“Once you get going, it’s part mental to keeping it going,” Gasol said. “Once you cool down at halftime, you’ve got to rev it up again and get going again. But it’s a mental thing more than anything. You have go out there with the same mindset you do any other time. Get going early and get your rhythm back.”
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