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LAKERS FYI

Pau Gasol proves to be quite the hot shot

Lakers forward had been unhappy with his lack of touches, but he gets plenty against Milwaukee and scores 26 points.

December 17, 2009|By Mike Bresnahan

Reporting from Milwaukee — Pau Gasol finally got his touches. And the rebounds kept coming too.

The Lakers forward had been unhappy with his lack of shots -- eight against the Chicago Bulls, 11 against the Utah Jazz -- but there were no complaints after he scored 26 points on nine-for-15 shooting Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Gasol also pulled down 22 rebounds, making his rebounds in recent games look like numbers from the "I" column in Bingo: 16-20-20 and now 22.

No wonder a reporter jokingly compared him to Bill Russell. Or maybe he wasn't joking.

"I'm just trying to be more active and more assertive in rebounding and try to pursue the ball, not just wait for it," said Gasol, who has a career average of 8.8 rebounds per game. "Things are working out right now, the ball is bouncing my way a couple times more than it regularly would."

Gasol was also satisfied that he had more shots Wednesday.

"I've been demanding the ball a little more and getting a few more looks, so I'm able to create more," he said.

Stay or go?

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson probably won't decide until the end of the season whether he'll return to the Lakers, but there will be hints between now and then, his coaching temperature checked often from now to June.

"The money's good. I can't complain about that," said Jackson, who is being paid $12 million in the last year of his contract.

Why else does Jackson, 64, keep coming back?

"This year's challenge is entirely different from last year," he said. "Now it's kind of a veteran group we have out there, along with Andrew Bynum. It's a whole different kind of feel about our team. Our team is slower, it's much more pedantic and it's an interesting transformation.

"I think that's what keeps me coming back, is just to watch that happen for a team."

No endorsement

Milwaukee guard Brandon Jennings went from high school to playing professionally overseas for a year because he wasn't old enough to enter the NBA draft.

Jennings, 20, is averaging 20.7 points and 8.1 assists as a rookie, but Jackson doesn't want Jennings' path to set a trend.

Jackson emphasized that he had nothing personal against Jennings, but he hoped the NBA would insist on players being two years out of high school instead of one to be eligible for the NBA draft.

"What I've heard from college coaches is that the players . . . end up coming to school and spending part of a semester getting their grades in position so they can be eligible for the second semester and then they stop doing anything as a student and school becomes a joke for them," Jackson said.

"We're hoping the NBA [makes] these guys get a couple years of college so they come out with more than just, 'I'm going to go off to school for a few months and then promote my NBA career from there.' "

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

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