Against the Clippers tonight, Pau Gasol played all 12 minutes of the third quarter without attempting a single shot or free throw. He pulled down 4 defensive rebounds, but one of the most offensively versatile and polished players in all of basketball could not hold on to the ball long enough to find a single shot in 12 straight minutes of play.
These were 12 minutes when the Lakers gave up 30 and only scored 20, taking the home team’s deficit from 5 down at the half to 15 down after three.
Gasol did not block a shot, score a point, or pick a steal.
What Gasol did accomplish in the quarter is a shorter story. He got one assist, pulled down 4 defensive boards, and committed 2 personal fouls. To be fair to Pau, he altered numerous shots, and his one assist was a pretty dime to Dwight Howard. Also, the Spaniard did not commit any of the Lakers’ 6 turnovers in the quarter.
With 4:58 on the clock, Pau Gasol drew Blake Griffin’s 3rd foul. For the remainder of the quarter, the Lakers failed to identify Griffin as a man sitting on three fouls every time they went down the floor. Instead, Howard would commit his 4th foul with a lazy push as D’Andre Jordan went up to stuff one down.
Sensing that the game was in the balance, Mike Brown left Howard out on the floor until a bad Steve Blake blocking foul call made him rethink his strategy. With a little over 3 and a half minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Lakers were down by 6, and Dwight Howard was on the bench.
With Howard out of the game, the natural thought would be to get the ball to Pau. No, the Lakers never did throw the ball back into the post after Howard sat down. Instead, they threw the ball away on careless turnovers, and they threw up rushed attempts as the shot clock neared expiration.
Suddenly, the quarter ended, and the Lakers were down by 15. The game was lost in that third quarter. The problem wasn’t the offense; rather, the problem was the offensive decision making.
How can a team struggling to score not identify Pau Gasol as an attacking threat?
It bears repeating that the Lakers struggled to put up 20 points at a crucial time in the game and allowed the game to slip away without Pau Gasol putting up a single shot attempt in 12 minutes.
Mike Brown and Eddie Jordan may call it the Princeton offense, but tonight, it looked more like the community college offense.