(Reuters) - The injury-hit Los Angeles Lakers were dealt another major blow on Thursday with the news that forward Pau Gasol is expected to be sidelined for at least six to eight weeks with a foot injury.
Gasol sustained the injury during the Lakers' 92-83 victory over the Nets in Brooklyn on Tuesday and was brought back to Los Angeles to consult a foot specialist who diagnosed the Spaniard with a tear of the plantar fascia in his right foot, the team said in a statement.
The Lakers (23-26) have only recently found their rhythm - winning six of their last seven games - as they try to climb from 10th spot in the 15-team Western Conference into one of the top eight playoff spots.
They are already without center and three-time defensive player of the year Dwight Howard, who has missed the last three games while nursing a shoulder ailment, and can hardly afford another injury.
Four-times All-Star Gasol had been moved to a reserve role to make room for Howard in the paint, but over his last three games had averaged 20 points and 8.6 rebounds in the starting lineup.
The Lakers were already struggling to field post players with reserve center-forward Jordan Hill having had season-ending hip surgery last month.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue)