Pau Gasol should return soon for Lakers

[Lakers head coach Mike] D’Antoni said Pau Gasol could return as soon as Monday at Phoenix, and Gasol could be in the starting lineup against the Suns, too. The forward from Spain has been recovering from a torn plantar fascia in his right foot since early February. Gasol spent the last part of the shootaround working one-one-one against center Dwight Howard.

But the focus Friday was on one swollen ankle that D’Antoni hasn’t even taken a peek at yet.

”I think if you look at his tweets, you’ll see it,” he said, drawing laughter.

The Lakers need Bryant to continue their surge toward the playoffs.

He is the NBA’s third-leading scorer at 27.5 points and has helped stabilize his team during a tumultuous season that has included the early firing of coach Mike Brown, a prolonged skid, All-Star center Dwight Howard’s struggles to fit in with his new team, and the death of owner Jerry Buss.

– Reported by the Associated Press