As much as Kobe Bryant’s rustiness was to blame for Sunday’s LA Lakers loss, Pau Gasol did not have a good night. The 7-foot Spaniard was struggling with an ankle issue, and he missed eight of his 11 shots and committed two turnovers. The crowd let him hear it.
At Monday’s practice, a noticeably different Gasol was vocal, animated and in high spirits.
“I don’t pay too much attention,” Gasol said when asked about the crowd voicing its disappointment on Sunday evening. “I know I didn’t have a great game.”
Did he hear the boos?
“Yea, everybody heard them,” Gasol said on Monday. “The ones that were booing will be clapping next time.”
Gasol confidence was shining through his posture, inflection and words.
“I’m over, above and beyond that,” Gasol responded when asked if he thought the crowd was being unfair with its jeers.
Gasol is currently fighting an ankle sprain, and he said the ankle was greatly improved from only one day earlier.
“It’s feeling better today…seriously,” Gasol said.
He also said his knees were progressing and felt good. Gasol underwent a procedure designed to regenerate tissue in his knees over the summer. Due to the procedure, Gasol missed considerable conditioning time in the offseason. Added to that, Gasol started the season with a chest infection.
The Spaniard has not made excuses for his poor play, but those close to the team understand Gasol’s struggles.
With Bryant back and slowly working his way back from an Achilles injury, Gasol understands that the pressure is on him to shoulder the burden until the Black Mamba adjusts to his new state.
Gasol was not the only person to blame on Sunday, as the other four starters missed 16 of their 21 shots, but he was the primary object of the crowd’s dissatisfaction. Bryant and Steve Blake combined for 12 of the Lakers’ 19 turnovers, but neither player was hounded like the Spaniard.
The fans have seemingly singled out Gasol this season, and with Bryant returning, the mob’s patience is wearing thin. Gasol needs to step up sooner rather than later.