Reporting from Oklahoma City — It probably could be argued that Pau Gasol has been the best Laker in the postseason.
He had been averaging a double-double in the first two games, 22 points and 12.5 rebounds. He had been making 53.6% of his shots.
And yet, the Lakers went away from Gasol in the fourth quarter of their 101-96 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder Thursday night in Game 3 of the Western Conference first-round opener at the Ford Center.
"We tend to settle sometimes a little too much," Gasol said. "We have to create penetration. We have to take advantage of our size.
"We have to figure out how to do so. We shot the ball a little bit better tonight than we did in the first two games. Still, too many threes for our ball club."
Gasol finished with another double-double, 17 points and 15 rebounds. He was seven-for-12 from the field.
He even had six assists, giving him 11 in three games, the most on the team.
But in the fourth quarter, when the Thunder made its move, the Lakers made their move away from Gasol.
He took just two shots in the fourth, making one, scoring four points before he fouled out.
As a result, the Lakers now hold a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series that resumes with Game 4 Saturday night here.
The Lakers hoisted up seven three-pointers in the fourth, making just two.
They were 10-for-31 from three-point range (32.3%), and an abysmal three-for-12 from from three-point range (25%) in the second half.
That was too many for Lakers Coach Phil Jackson's liking.
"There were a lot of things we didn't do that I was not happy about out there," Jackson said. "We took too many three-point shots. We made some in the first half, and we were cautioning them in the first half about not settling for three-point shots and continue to work their offense. Those shots will start to go awry in the second half, and they did tonight."
At practice Wednesday, Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons, who is in charge of putting the game plan together against the Thunder, said the idea was to play an inside/out game.
That means taking advantage of 7-footers Andrew Bynum and Gasol.
The Lakers did that in the first half, building a 12-point lead.
That changed in the second half.
"We just stopped converting like we were in the first half when we started effectively hitting shots and going inside and finishing well," Gasol said. "Obviously that is an advantage. In the second half, we couldn't do it as much."
It could be a nerve-racking assignment or it could be fun.