Pau Gasol received a warm welcome Tuesday from the sold-out Staples Center crowd, and the Lakers no doubt were equally as glad to see him back in the lineup after missing the past eight games because of tendinitis in both knees.

Gasol scored 10 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had five assists against the Charlotte Bobcats, giving the Lakers a needed boost in the front-court and proving he can co-exist with Dwight Howard on the floor.

The 7-foot Spaniard had not played since a Dec. 2 loss and the Lakers went 3-5 without him. Gasol said the conditioning and strength exercises he did during his time off should help him find his niche.

Coach Mike D'Antoni said he didn't see why the two couldn't find roles in his up-tempo system, even if Gasol, at times, questioned his effectiveness in a running offense. D'Antoni said Gasol is too skilled and too talented not to fit in, and alternated the two post players throughout the game.

"There's no reason not to," D'Antoni said before the game. "We do have to find the right balance between Pau and Dwight in the post and all that goes with it. But I would be shocked if he (Gasol) can't (play in this offense.)"

D'Antoni expected to see a different Gasol on the court than in recent weeks now that his knees feel better and he has a better understanding of the spread offense.

Gasol spent the past eight games sitting next to Steve Nash, a proponent of D'Antoni's offense, on the bench watching and learning.

"He feels better so that is a big factor," D'Antoni said. "As the team goes forward and the team plays better around him that will give him some room."

D'Antoni said Gasol and the others need to trust in his system and buy into the concept of sharing the ball, otherwise the Lakers will continue to flounder in the Pacific Division.