Here’s ESPN Los Angeles on the Lakers, who need the services of Pau Gasol if their aim is to win basketball games:

Pau Gasol remains a key Laker

Granted, there’s no way of knowing if Pau Gasol would have made any difference in the Los Angeles Lakers’ past two losses, to the Utah Jazz and Philadelphia 76ers, two decidedly sub-.500 teams that L.A. fell to by a combined nine points.

Even if Gasol fought through his upper respiratory infection and came close to his 14.7-point and 9.4-rebound averages, L.A. might have still lost with the way it missed 16 of the 23 3-pointers it took against the Jazz and turned the ball over 22 times against the 76ers.

But here is the unwavering truth that makes the outcomes of the games almost irrelevant when considering Gasol’s lost contributions, no matter how strong or how meager they would have been: He could have played.

It was Gasol’s decision to sit out as his team extended its season-high losing streak to five with a 111-104 defeat to Philly. It’s not like he has been bedridden or completely unable to exert himself physically. According to a team source, Gasol still showed up to Lakers shootaround to lift weights Sunday, and when he told longtime trainer Gary Vitti he wanted more time to get over the infection and was not going to play against the Sixers, Vitti said to not even bother showing up to the game.