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Phil Jackson has to hand it to Pau Gasol

Lakers coach has often urged his All-Star power forward to be more aggressive, but statistics suggest that Gasol is one of the team's, and the NBA's, most well-rounded players. 'Pau knows who he is. We know who he is,' Jackson says.

February 06, 2011|By Broderick Turner
  • Lakers forward Pau Gasol celebrates with fans following the Lakers' 101-95 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Saturday.
Lakers forward Pau Gasol celebrates with fans following the Lakers'… (Derick E. Hingle / U.S. Presswire )

Reporting from Memphis — The imitation Lakers Coach Phil Jackson did of Pau Gasol after practice Sunday was uncanny.

He didn't do it to mock Gasol. Instead, when asked to describe Gasol's reactions after their frequent conversations in which he has urged his All-Star forward to be more aggressive, Jackson shrugged his shoulders, held his palms flipped upward and raised his eyes.

Jackson smiled before he explained how Gasol plays the game.

"Pau knows who he is. We know who he is," Jackson said. "We know he's tenacious, aggressive. . . . He's always a willing passer.

"The one thing I'm always on him about is getting that first rebound. 'Don't let them knock it out of your hands. Don't let them knock it away from you.' That's what I'm really about in Pau's aggressiveness, is go get the ball in tough situations and hang on to it. Otherwise, all this talk about how aggressive he's not, how aggressive he is, falls on deaf ears."

Jackson said Gasol understands what the Lakers expect from him.

"He is who he is," Jackson said. "We're not going to make him into Garnett. He's not going to go around punching guys [below the belt]."

Jackson was referring to Celtics forward Kevin Garnett, who recently hit Phoenix Suns forward Channing Frye below the belt during a game.

It's about Gasol using his considerable skills, which have helped make him second on the team in scoring (18.7) and assists (3.6), and first in rebounding (10.5) and shot blocking (1.86).

"He's an intelligent person," Jackson said. "He understands what this game is about."

Lamar Odom making a difference

Jackson views the multipurpose Lamar Odom as a player who can change the game.

"I always say Lamar is the 'X-factor' for us," Jackson said. "When he has an elevated game, he puts us beyond contention from a lot of teams."

"That's a fair assessment," Odom said. "I have a good game, be productive scoring the ball, rebounding the ball. It seems to give the team energy."

Odom appears at peace with having not been selected as an All-Star reserve.

"I didn't expect it," Odom said. "[Minnesota's Kevin] Love and [the Clippers' Blake] Griffin, they got the nod and they should have."

Zach Randolph hard to guard

When the Lakers face the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night at the FedExForum, they figure to have their hands full with forward Zach Randolph, who averages 20.3 points and 13.3 rebounds.

Jackson said Randolph doesn't do things with "athleticism." But, being a left-hander, he has advantages.

"He uses smarts and quickness," Jackson said. "He has a good touch, obviously, and he's strong, so he can be physical and yet manipulate. So he really has a knack about how to get around out there. He has good footwork. He's probably playing his best team basketball of his career."

So how will the Lakers slow down Randolph?

"We try and shrink the court so he doesn't feel like he has a whole lot of space in there to amble around," Jackson said. "If need be, we're going to come and double-team him."

broderick.turner@latimes.com

twitter.com/BA_Turner

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