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Pau Gasol gets into a tussle with LeBron James

March 04, 2012|By Melissa Rohlin

Don't call Pau Gasol soft.

On Sunday afternoon, the 250-pound 7-footer stepped in front of LeBron James and nudged him when he saw James acting aggressively toward one of his teammates.

The tussle happened at the end of the third quarter after James, frustrated over a non-call, gave a forearm shiver to Troy Murphy.

Gasol immediately intervened and dealt James a bit of push.

"I saw that he elbowed a little bit or shoved Troy," Gasol said. "At one point you have to say, 'It's enough.'"

"If the officials don't make a big deal about it or don't make a certain call then you have to force the issue a little bit and make them understand this is going on, we're not going to take this kind of thing here."

Both Gasol and James were given technical fouls on the play.

The crowd was impressed by Gasol's reaction.

The Lakers walked off the court at the end of the third quarter amid a standing ovation from a sold-out crowd at Staples Center.

Bryant also appreciated Gasol's toughness.

"Good, good," Bryant said of Gasol's nudge.

Gasol finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds, helping the Lakers beat Miami, 93-83. But even more important than his double-double was the fact that he made it clear that he will defend his teammates.

With the victory, the Lakers improved to 23-14 and are in third place in the Western Conference. If the Lakers don't make any trades by the March 15 deadline, one of the keys to the team's success undoubtedly will be whether Gasol can maintain his aggressiveness and defend his territory.

Last season during the Lakers' playoff run, Gasol shrank into the shadows. Perhaps that man is no more.

"We're all together," Gasol said.

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