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  • Pau Gasol will start for the Lakers tonight when they host the Trail Blazers at Staples Center. The team announced Thursday that Gasol was being treated for plantar fasciitis in his right foot, a painful condition that affects the arch. Gasol spent Thursday’s off day getting evaluated by a specialist and undergoing an MRI. Gasol plans to wear orthotics and extra padding in the shoe for additional support. He already missed eight games this season with tendonitis in both knees. His versatility on offense makes him a vital piece for the Lakers. Not only does the 7-footer have a strong post game, but he’s developing a 3-point shot as well. He made back-to-back 3-pointers Wednesday night against the Nuggets for the first time since the 2003-04 season.
  • Portland will be without starting shooting guard Wesley Matthews (left hip flexor strain) for a third straight game, coach Terry Stotts confirmed before the game. Matthews, fourth on the team at 15 points a game, traveled with the team to L.A. but has not yet participated in a full practice, a requirement before he can be cleared, Stotts said. The Trail Blazers will immediately return to Portland following tonight’s game and host the 76ers on Saturday night, so Matthews won’t have a chance to practice until Monday in New York, when the Trail Blazers prepare to play the Knicks on Tuesday night.
  • Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said he will have second-year guard Darius Morris defend Portland rookie point guard Damian Lillard, which leaves L.A. point guard Steve Nash likely up against 6-10 rookie Victor Claver, who’s replacing Matthews in the starting lineup. Claver isn’t much of an inside threat, however. He’s averaging just 1.5 points and 1.9 rebounds in 11 appearances for the Trail Blazers.
  • J.J. Hickson has nine straight double-doubles, the most for a Blazer since Kermit Washington in 1980. The 6-9 center will be locked up early on with Dwight Howard of the Lakers, who avoided a suspension after he was ejected from the Denver game for a hard foul on Kenneth Faried midway through the third quarter. Howard’s scoring (17.5) and rebounding (11.8) numbers are down from the past six seasons, but he had his best game of the season against Portland on Halloween, finishing with 33 points and 14 rebounds.

– Dan Arritt

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