Lakers' Pau Gasol happy to 'stir things up'

Kobe Bryant has played only six games this season, taking away a strong-willed and sometimes critical voice of the Lakers.

But Pau Gasol has played more than six years with Bryant, long enough to pick up some of his behavior.

Several days after criticizing some of his teammates' selfish play and Coach Mike D'Antoni's small-ball approach, Gasol was no longer angry.

It's not as if his words directly led to a victory Friday against the Sacramento Kings. But he felt the need to crack the whip regardless.

"I think it was good because when you start going through the motions and start going downhill, if nothing happens, you're just going to continue to go down that path," Gasol said Sunday. "Sometimes you just need something to happen for you to wake up and kind of react and make things better."

Bryant likes to shake things up sometimes too, no?

"Yes, he does," Gasol said. "As a veteran, you feel like there's times where you need to sometimes get out of that comfort zone and stir things up a little so guys react, and you get hopefully a positive result."

A much larger test than Sacramento will be Monday's game at Portland, where the Lakers have been stunningly poor over the years.

They almost always go up to Oregon, get in some shopping at the Nike V.I.P. store, maybe experience a little rain, and then lose to the Trail Blazers. Badly.

They're 7-25 at Portland since Bryant's rookie season (1996), and they're fortunate to play there only once this season.

"They haven't always had this tough of a team like they do now, but they've always been tough," Gasol said. "Their crowd really gets into it, they've always been a physical team and they always give us a lot of problems up there."

The Trail Blazers (41-18) are the NBA's biggest surprise, parked in third place in the Western Conference. The Lakers (20-39) are tied for last in the West with Sacramento.

Henry returns

Forward Xavier Henry will play Monday after missing 28 games because of a bone bruise and cartilage abnormalities in his right knee.

"He's a guy that can get in the lane, penetrates really strongly and just throws his body around," Gasol said. "It's going to be good to have him back and see how Mike can fit him into the rotation."

Henry played two games in the Development League last week to try to get back in playing shape. He hasn't played an NBA game since Dec. 29.

"He's got a couple of pounds he's got to get rid of because he hasn't done any activity in six weeks, but he'll play some minutes," D'Antoni said.

Henry, 22, averaged 10.1 points and 21.8 minutes before being injured.

Nick Young will not play Monday because of lingering soreness in his knee stemming from a bone bruise and fracture he sustained almost four weeks ago. He has missed nine of the last 10 games.

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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