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Frustrated Pau Gasol tears into Lakers after 114-105 loss to Orlando

The veteran forward angrily asks his teammates why they lost to a lousy team and challenges them to turn things around. Orlando small forward Tobias Harris has a career-high 20 rebounds.

January 24, 2014|By Mike Bresnahan

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ORLANDO — Pau Gasol is often considered the quiet star of the Lakers, the one who doesn't use death stares or bared teeth to show his emotion.

Not on Friday.

Gasol tore into the Lakers after a meek 114-105 loss to the woeful Orlando Magic, angrily asking his teammates why they lost to a lousy team and challenging them to turn it around quickly. He accented the point by hurling his basketball shoes in the locker room, he later acknowledged.

Gasol's career credentials didn't need repeating, but two championships in three trips to the NBA Finals gave him a pulpit to pound if he wished. He took advantage of it Friday.

No one is calling these Lakers champions — not even close — but Gasol wanted to see at least a hint of effort against the team with the NBA's second-worst record.

"Bottom line is, when you lose against the worst teams in the league, you've got to ask yourself why and … what does that make you?" he said half an hour after his postgame outburst.

The Lakers (16-28) are 3-14 since Dec. 21, battling Sacramento for 14th in the Western Conference, as ridiculous as it sounds.

Gasol's eruption found a welcome audience in Nick Young, an increasingly frustrated player who continued it with a technical foul in the third quarter for arguing a non-call on his missed layup.

"We need Pau to step up and say stuff like that," Young said in a quiet corner of Amway Center. "We need people to fight. We need people who have passion. You don't just want to walk in with the team and lose every game. We need him to be a leader."

Young said last week he didn't feel teammates' support while fighting "one on five" in a skirmish against Phoenix that cost him a one-game suspension.

It was evident Gasol was unhappy after he intentionally fouled Jameer Nelson with 19.1 seconds left and the Lakers down 10. It wasn't the intensity of the foul. It was what he did afterward.

The normally well-mannered Gasol swore at himself and slapped his hips in frustration. He seethed as he stood at the free-throw line.

After the loss became official, he walked slowly to the bench, frowning and half-heartedly high-fiving the extended hands of Manny Harris and Steve Blake.

No one talked to Gasol all the way to the locker room. He talked to nobody. Until the doors closed.

Orlando (12-32) had lost 12 of its last 13 and owned the league's second-worst home record.

"Not happy with it," Gasol said later. "Not happy with it at all."

Gasol had 21 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, but the story was once again the Lakers' lack of defense.

Orlando was 23rd in scoring (96.2 points a game) before Friday. The Magic blew past that with 7:23 to play.

"We just can't seem to lock up consistently," Gasol said. "We do it for spurts but then every team in the league knows the Lakers are not very good defensively, to say the least."

The Lakers allowed another career high, which was nothing new, though this one was peculiar — 20 rebounds for small forward Tobias Harris. Three players broke the 20-point mark for Orlando: Harris (28 points), Arron Afflalo (23 points) and Nelson (22 points).

"Any question you [media] guys ask me from now on has got to be [about] defense" Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Our offense is good. Somehow we've got to find a way to stop some people."

Whether Gasol's words were heard wouldn't be known until Sunday against New York, the final stop, mercifully, on the Lakers' seven-game Grammy trip.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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