It is hard to imagine that a man taller than seven feet can blend into the crowd, but Pau Gasol has that ability on the Los Angeles Lakers. Having Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard on the team can have that effect, and this phenomenon may not be a bad occurrence for the Lakers this season.
On Tuesday night, Gasol started the game with a simple pick-and-roll and wound up with an open 18-foot jumper from the top of the key. He easily knocked down the shot and gave Bryant one of his easiest assists of the night. Gasol would get that open look all night long.
Gasol fired off nine shots from the 15- to 19-foot range and knocked down four of them. Spacing the floor is fundamental when it comes to the wealth of talent the Lakers have to offer this season, and that 15- to 19-foot jump shot is open every night for Gasol.
With Howard under the basket, the Spaniard has a strong skillset when it comes to setting a pick on the perimeter. On a pick-and-pop, Gasol is a good jump shooter from 15 to 18 feet. On the pick-and-roll, Gasol is a great passer when defenses rotate.
When the Nets tried to rotate to Gasol, they were immediately reminded that he is the best passing big man in the league. Gasol collected 7 assists on the night. His last assist was a highlight play that involved Bryant feeding Gasol on a pick and roll and Gasol throwing an alley-oop to Howard. That play was all the talk after the game.
However, in the win over the Brooklyn Nets, Gasol had 17 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists. His flirtation with a triple double blended into the background along with Metta World Peace’s 4-9 shooting from behind the arc. Both players spaced the floor and knocked down big shots in the win.
Bryant’s 10-point fourth quarter and the Bryant-to-Gasol-to-Howard play were certainly worth salivating over, but Metta World Peace hitting open threes and Gasol knocking down 15- to 19-foot jump shots will win more games than the occasional alley-oop.
Gasol hitting an open 15- to 19-foot jump shot may not be pretty enough to end up on SportsCenter, but it should be a beautiful sight for Lakers fans all season long.