L.A. Lakers: Will Pau Gasol’s Knee Injury Affect the Lakers in the Playoffs?

The Los Angeles Lakers nine-game winning streak came to an end on Sunday afternoon against the Denver Nuggets, but the bigger concern for Lakers fans may have been the injury sustained by star forward Pau Gasol.

Gasol landed awkwardly after being fouled late in the third quarter and immediately grabbed his right knee.

Lakers fans everywhere held their collective breath as Gasol writhed on the court in agony, and there was a large sigh of relief once he finally stood up and began to walk around.

Gasol was diagnosed with a bone bruise after an MRI on Monday and his status is currently listed as day to day, but it has to make you wonder how much Gasol's injury will affect the Lakers down the stretch.

One immediate effect may be conceding the western conference's top seed to the San Antonio Spurs, because even if Gasol is able to play, it may be in coach Phil Jackson's best interest to let him rest for the remainder of the regular season.

The Lakers still have tough games remaining with Portland, Oklahoma City and San Antonio, but two of those games are at home, and the Lakers are capable of winning all three without Gasol.

But to risk further injury could be disastrous, because there is no way the Lakers can achieve their ultimate goal of a three-peat without a healthy Gasol.

The Lakers' performances since the All-Star break and the emergence of center Andrew Bynum have over-shadowed how much Gasol really means to this team, but the reality came crashing down as Gasol lay in pain on the court.

Gasol is arguably the most skilled power forward in all of basketball, and he is the perfect interior complement to Kobe Bryant in the triangle offense.

Jackson has called Gasol his captain in the middle, and his court vision and passing ability are just as important to the Lakers as Gasol's ability to score.

As Bynum has asserted himself in the post Gasol has f...

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