ATLANTA — Pau Gasol remembers all the questions about his tired legs. He used to field them every day.
He logged almost 40 minutes a game while Andrew Bynum was sidelined by a knee injury, and it began to show when he shot 49% in December.
Some teammates privately wondered why he looked so fatigued after taking off the entire summer.
"Internally, some of the stuff was that Pau's not living up to his potential, he's not playing hard enough," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said Monday. "I didn't like that because I knew exactly what he was going through as far as the process of playing minutes and wearing himself out, muscling down there with the big guys."
Gasol added another reason for his slump, remembering the date clearly: Dec. 1.
The Lakers were still buzzing Monday from their destruction of the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday, but Gasol went back to his lowest spot this season.
"My hamstring got really tight, especially after that Houston game where I couldn't sprint," he said. "I remember that game like it was yesterday. I had a couple issues going on that didn't allow me to continue with any effort. But I worked on them and they went away."
Gasol had eight points on two-for-eight shooting that night against Houston. He had 21 points on 12 shots Sunday against San Antonio, looking confident and driven. He looked like a four-time All-Star.
His averages in the Lakers' seven-game winning streak: 17.9 points, 10.4 rebounds, 55% shooting. And that doesn't count his 30-point, 20-rebound effort in the Lakers' debacle in Cleveland before the All-Star break.
"I feel fresh. Just motivated, excited about where we're at, getting closer to the second season of the year," Gasol said. "I love getting closer to that moment. I like where I'm at right now. That's what matters."
Bynum not bitter
Andrew Bynum has taken six shots in the last two games. He swears he doesn't care.
Jackson believes him, pointing to a private talk they had before the All-Star break in which the 23-year-old wanted to emphasize defense more than offense.
Bynum complained about not getting enough touches earlier this season. Not anymore.
"I told him the difference between us being a good club and a great club is his presence on the floor, particularly defensively and rebounding," Jackson said. "Andrew's a pretty smart kid. He understands that."
Bynum had 17 rebounds in each of the Lakers' last two games.