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Pau Gasol is flawed man out in Lakers' loss

Struggling in running game, Gasol doesn't play the fourth quarter and Memphis wins, 106-98. L.A. is 0-4 on the road.

November 23, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Dwight Howard powers through the Grizzlies' Mike Conley and Marc Gasol
Dwight Howard powers through the Grizzlies' Mike Conley and Marc… (Lance Murphey / Associated…)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Pau Gasol was one of the big losers when Mike D'Antoni was hired to coach the Lakers instead of Phil Jackson.

Jackson had a deep fondness for Gasol, often sticking up for him publicly and privately whenever the four-time All-Star went into a slump.

But he never benched Gasol the entire fourth quarter, which happened in the Lakers' 106-98 loss Friday to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Gasol left for good after picking up his fourth foul with 1:19 left in the third quarter. Why?

"I was thinking I'd like to win this game. That's the reason," D'Antoni said.

Gasol had six points on three-for-eight shooting, continuing to toil in D'Antoni's push-the-pace offense. He also posted a dud two days earlier against Sacramento, scoring eight points on three-for-10 shooting.

Maybe it's a conditioning thing, the 12-year veteran never required to run as much as in D'Antoni's system.

"He'll be rested for [Saturday], that's for sure," D'Antoni said.

Antawn Jamison took Gasol's place and had his best game with the Lakers — 16 points and seven rebounds. It didn't help Gasol's surprise about being benched.

"I don't remember the last time that that's happened in my career," said Gasol, who wanted to get closer to the basket, a refrain he has voiced from time to time in his six seasons with the Lakers.

"All my looks are jump shots," he said. "I'm not a pure jump shooter. I can stretch the defense out and take a couple jumpers, but how I get going is by getting in the paint and creating off the post and things like that. That's historically how I've been very successful and how I've made a very good name for myself and earned my contracts. Hopefully I'll find a way…."

Gasol's missed shots failed to open things up down low, creating a clogged lane for Dwight Howard at FedEx Forum, D'Antoni said. He also said the Lakers needed to "get in a little bit better shape."

"Guys have got to get used to this pace," he said. "It might take a little bit, but we're going to run up and down. And if you can't run up and down and play quickly, then we'll have to find guys that do."

Kobe Bryant, a big proponent of Gasol in the past, joined the guessing game afterward.

"He's just missed some of the shots that he normally makes," Bryant said. "He's getting great looks. They just haven't fallen for him…. If he feels like he needs to get more touches, then we'll get him some more."

Bryant had an off night too, scoring 30 points, including the last 14 by the Lakers, but making only seven of 23 shots. He airballed a three-point attempt and a seven-foot floater in the final minutes, angrily wanting a foul each time. He walked off the court with five seconds to play as the Grizzlies dribbled out the clock.

Howard posted his second consecutive single-single, finishing with seven points and four rebounds in 39 minutes. He had seven points and nine rebounds against Sacramento.

"Me and Pau have got to be active," said Howard, who made two of seven shots. "We might not get it as much as we want it. We've got to find ways to help our team win. We've got to stay positive. We can't get down on each other."

It's tough to win the Western Conference if you can't even win a road game, the Lakers falling to 0-4 away from Staples Center.

They don't have time to tinker. They play at Dallas on Saturday, their fourth game in five nights.

"I'll try to play better next game so I can stay on the floor a little longer," Gasol said. "I think we all need to improve our conditioning if that's how we're going to continue to play and speed the game up a little more."

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