Following the Los Angeles Lakers’ loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol are on the same page. Gasol’s 1-6 shooting night yielded two points in slightly more than 27 minutes. It was easy to miss amid the flashes of two of the NBA’s top stars — Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant — going back and forth with the game on the line.
Gasol played the least amount of any Lakers’ starter despite not being in foul trouble. Metta World Peace and Dwight Howard both fouled out, and both ended up playing nearly 10 minutes more than Gasol on the night. Whereas Gasol had become a regular for D’Antoni’s Lakers down the stretch recently, Gasol was discarded for the majority of the fourth quarter against the Clippers.
Gasol only stepped foot onto the floor in the fourth quarter after Howard was fouled out.
After the game, Gasol said, “I don’t like watching from the bench, but we made a good run at the end, and the guys on the floor were doing a great job.” He was frustrated, but he was doing his best not to be disruptive.
Gasol shared some of his frustrations with his current role, “I feel like my performances depend a lot on my jumpers, whether they fall or not. I’d like to change it up a little bit…so I can be more effective and be the player that I can be.”
When asked about Gasol not really being a key creator and central figure in the current offense, Bryant responded with a full show of support that went beyond the coach or any other teammate.
Bryant said about Gasol “We need to go through him a lot lot more. A lot lot more. He needs more touches on the elbow, more touches on the post.”
“He can make plays for others from down there. He can control the game from down there. We got to figure out a way to get him more activated.”
Bryant went on further about Gasol’s frustration with being left out late in games and steadily seeing his production and minutes decrease since D’Antoni’s arrival. Gasol undoubtedly had a bad game, but he did not get an opportunity to change that when the game mattered most—the fourth quarter.
“He is obviously frustrated,” Bryant said of Gasol.
“He has every right to be. I am frustrated for him. That’s something that we’re going to have to solve. We’re not going to get to where we want to go with him not playing at maximum potential and using his maximum potential.”
Bryant appeared to be politicking to keep Gasol in Los Angeles, stating that he was a key piece in the Lakers’ puzzle. At Saturday's practice, Bryant reiterated his backing at Saturday's Lakers practice.
"I won two championships with the man. We won two championships playing through him, really...besides the fact that he's a nice guy, and I like him."
Coach D’Antoni’s actions have consistently treated the Spaniard like a piece that can be discarded and replaced.
With the team still struggling, the coach was asked about potential trades during Saturday’s practice. When asked if he was still confident if this current Lakers roster was good enough to get the job done, D’Antoni responded, “Yes…look who we are. Why not?”
If D’Antoni and Gasol cannot make it work sooner rather than later, even Kobe Bryant may not have enough sway to keep the Spaniard in LA.