By Ben Golliver
A horribly bloody nose was just the beginning.
The Lakers announced Monday that forward/center Pau Gasol suffered a concussion after taking an elbow to the face from Nuggets center JaVale McGee during the fourth quarter of a 112-105 loss at the Staples Center on Sunday night. Gasol will not travel with the Lakers for road games in Houston on Tuesday and San Antonio on Wednesday, and he is officially listed as out indefinitely.
McGee struck Gasol with an elbow with 1:05 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Nuggets leading 105-97. Steve Nash had penetrated and dished to Gasol, who looked to collect himself and go up near the hoop. McGee wasn't facing Gasol when the blow was delivered and he didn't appear initially to realize what he had done; he received only a personal foul for the blow. The direct shot to the face sent Gasol immediately to the court, where he covered his face with both hands in evident pain. The game was stopped for an extended period of time so that the Lakers training staff could attempt to stop the profuse bleeding from Gasol's nose. After a few minutes, the Lakers opted to pull Gasol from the game, replacing him with Earl Clark.
The NBA instituted a strict concussion protocol prior to the 2011-12 season. Any player deemed to have suffered a concussion must pass a series of tests and receive clearance from the NBA’s concussion program director, Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, before returning to action.
Gasol, 32, is suffering through his worst year in recent memory and he missed eight games earlier this season with knee tendinitis. He's averaging 12.2 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists while shooting 41.6 percent from the field in 34.3 minutes per game. His name has come up repeatedly in trade rumors.