After Friday night's loss to the Clippers, the Lakers had a meeting.
The team that was hailed as a championship contender before the season began was collapsing into itself, a broken mess of poor defense and confused offense. Of the many holes they need to patch, perhaps none seemed bigger than Pau Gasol's role.
Gasol is averaging a career-low 12.2 points this season, a five-point drop from last season.
"We had a team conversation that we need to use Pau at the elbow, which we do, and use him and Steve [Nash] as facilitators, which we do," Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni said.
Gasol said that the meeting was promising and in Sunday's 112-105 loss to Denver there were glimmers of evidence that it was true.
Gasol, who scored only two points on one-of-six shooting on Friday, took six shots by the end of the first half on Sunday. Heading into halftime, Gasol had scored 11 points on five-for-six shooting and had grabbed three rebounds.
But in the second half, he disappeared.
Gasol attempted only three shots and made none in 17 minutes of play before he left the game with 1:05 remaining because of a bloody nose.
Gasol's role on the team has been questioned under D'Antoni's system. Magic Johnson said last month that it makes no sense for Gasol to be playing at the perimeter when he's had championship-level success while playing inside. Johnson called Gasol "the key" to the Lakers' success and said that D'Antoni is misusing him.
After Friday's loss to the Clippers in which Gasol was a total non-factor on offense, Kobe Bryant said that he was frustrated for Gasol and Gasol voiced his disappointment over his diminished role on the offensive end.
The team meeting gave Gasol a bit more confidence heading into Monday's game.
"My teammates trust my abilities and they value me as a huge asset of the team so it was a positive in that regard," he said of the talk.
Against the Nuggets, Gasol seemed much more involved but not nearly as involved as he needs to be in order for the Lakers to reach their potential.
There were times when Gasol was playing at the perimeter, seemingly forgotten on the offensive end. And there were times when he was closer to the post, where he coud use his agile footwork and drop-step and attack the basket.
While Gasol did not specifically address his role after Sunday's game, he did point out that the team's success seems to be stalled because, well, there isn't enough progress.
"We're making pretty much the same mistakes," he said.
Gasol, who helped the Lakers win two championships in 2009 and 2010, intimated that he's seen a big change in the way teams are approaching the Lakers nowadays, saying that they currently come to Staples Center believing they can win.
"We have to be concerned," Gasol said. "We have to have some sense of urgency. We have to protect our homecourt against anybody and everybody."
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