Rudy Gay Injury: Concussion May Keep Memphis Grizzlies Top Scorer out vs. Lakers

Tom FirmeAnalyst IIMarch 13, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 02:  Rudy Gay #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies drives around Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena on February 2, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Rudy Gay currently has the Memphis Grizzlies sitting on pins and needles as they prepare to play the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. Gay, who suffered a concussion on Sunday against the Denver Nuggets, might have to miss the game again, pending his progress. An absent Gay could automatically mean a loss to the Lakers.

Gay suffered the concussion when Nene accidentally elbowed him in the head.

According to The Commercial Appeal, the concussion is being described as mild. Gay is listed as day-to-day.

The NBA has a strict, albeit workable, protocol on head injuries. Gay must go through a series of tests, including medical examination and a series of workouts, before being cleared to play.

Under the NBA protocol for concussions, Gay must be symptom-free for 24 hours before the 8 p.m. ET tipoff.

The Grizzlies' chances of grabbing a key win against the Pacific Division-leading Lakers at home would be severely hurt if Gay is unable to play. Gay is the Grizzlies' leading scorer (18.8 points per game). He's also the main shooter for the Grizzlies, taking 16.9 shots per game, 5.4 more than Marc Gasol, the No. 2 Grizzlies shot taker.

Moreover, Rudy Gay is the central cog of the Grizzlies offense. One of three Grizzlies players averaging 1.7 steals or more per game, Gay often pushes the Grizzlies to score in transition. He sometimes scores on wire-to-wire dashes or off the dribble in the half court. At that, Gay is the most effective Grizzlies player at creating shots off the dribble.

The Grizzlies seem likely to miss another key player on Tuesday night—Zach Randolph. Randolph, who is recovering from a partial MCL tear, hasn't been reported to be clear to return to the floor. Entering the weekend, Randolph had a strong contact practice.

According to The Commercial Appeal, Randolph was hot in action, showing second- and third-effort grabs for rebounds.

He's missed 36 games since going down when colliding with O.J. Mayo against the Chicago Bulls on January 1.

If Gay doesn't show substantial progress before Tuesday's game, then Quincy Pondexter will start for the Grizzlies. Pondexter is averaging 4.7 points per game on 46.8 percent from the field.

Grizzlies fans will surely be waiting anxiously to hear whether Memphis' top scorer will be able to duel with Kobe Bryant.