Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers has come under fire for not meeting or exceeding expectations this season.
On Monday, the Los Angeles Lakers had the day off from practice, but the players were instructed to stop by the practice facility for treatment. After taking four flights and playing six games over 10 days, the physical stress of the NBA season was catching up to the Lakers.
Jordan Farmar lasted less than a minute against the Portland Trail Blazers before coming up limp with a moderate left hamstring strain. He underwent an ultrasound on Monday, and the Lakers confirmed that Farmar will be out approximately four weeks with a hamstring tear. Xavier Henry may see more time at the point guard position, but Steve Nash is also expected to return to practice on Tuesday.
Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill both had sprained ankles entering Sunday’s game, but both opted to start. Neither impressed, and the duo combined for 8 points and 11 rebounds. They were both negative-21 points on the plus/minus statistic, highlighting their ineffectiveness.
After the game, Gasol confirmed that he would have an MRI on Monday to better evaluate the injury. The MRI revealed a mild sprain in Gasol's right ankle. Fans were not happy with the Spaniard following a 3-15 shooting night and an altogether poor performance.
“[I] should have gotten myself a little closer to the basket and operate from there,” Gasol admitted after the loss. “But I didn’t quite do it—didn’t quite get there.”
Well, why not? Was it the ankle injury?
“We don’t have an offense that it’s going to put me in the post often,” Gasol said. “Tonight, I just didn’t quite have it, unfortunately. But I took good shots. Those shots were there. Unfortunately, they weren’t falling.”
The immediate emotional reaction was to dismiss Gasol as finished and say he simply does not have juice in the tank. However, Sunday’s game excluded, Gasol has been putting up consistent numbers and playing well.
Gasol set the Lakers in motion on their recent streak of improved play by nearly tabbing a triple-double against Detroit. Then, he followed up by scoring 24 points and donating $24,000 to the Philippines. In the win over Sacramento, the Spaniard scored 20 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. On the road, Gasol was spotty, but he still averaged 17.0 points and 8.7 rebounds.
Although Gasol may not be the same level of the player who arrived in Los Angeles and immediately propelled the Lakers to three straight NBA Finals and two championships, Sunday’s six points and five rebounds do not accurately represent Gasol’s recent play.
He is too proud to blame injuries or illness, but Gasol’s slow start was due in large part to a chest infection. Since recovering, his play has improved noticeably. Sunday’s poor display was more likely due to injury than Gasol would directly let on.
However, time will tell.
Gasol is in a contract year, so he needs to prove his worth this season.