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Pau Gasol’s hamstring ailing, but Lakers have no other good options

Dec 3, 2010, 2:23 PM EDT

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Pau Gasol missed 17 games last season because one or another of his hamstrings was hurt.

This season, Gasol knew he would have to play more minutes and take on more of the load in the paint until Andrew Bynum returned (then Theo Ratliff went down, making things worse). What has returned more quickly than Bynum is a sore Gasol hamstring.

Gasol could use some rest — he has averaged 43.4 minutes per game the last five — but Phil Jackson doesn’t have a lot of choices.

Before the Lakers first game of the season Phil Jackson was asked about playing rookie Derrick Caracter key minutes and he said “I hope not” almost before the question was over.

But Thursday Phil Jackson has said Gasol could sit out Friday night against the Kings, and if he does Caracter would get the start, as reported by Andrew Kamenetzky at the Land O’ Lakers blog.

“(We) might have to start (Caracter) and play him the whole game. That’s always an option where something may happen with that.”

Caracter is a nice rookie with potential. He isn’t a great shooter or rebounder at the NBA level yet, and he turns the ball over like a rookie. He should be down in the D-League getting reps, not a guy starting for a contender.

Tonight, look for Gasol to go. But look for Caracter to get key minutes, likely matched up on DeMarcus Cousins. Which will be interesting (Caracter held his own for three quarters against Cousins in Summer League, but Cousins has the potential to overwhelm Caracter).

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