Pau Gasol Wants the Ball

Pau Gasol is among the most professional of the Laker players when it comes to speaking to the media. He's patient, polite, and gives thoughtful answers to every last question that is asked of him after a game. Gasol is definitely not going to say anything that could be considered controversial, however, which is why his subtle comment after the team's loss in Atlanta should be taken seriously.

Gasol was the only Laker that seemed to be able to shoot on Sunday, and hit on seven of his 10 field goal attempts. The rest of the team went a dismal 21-of-70 for the game, and afterwards, Gasol didn't understand why he didn't get more touches.

“I don’t know why we were so out of whack and missing so many shots,” Gasol added. “Unfortunately, we lost a game that we definitely would have like to have won. Our outside shots weren’t going down, so we should have gone inside a little more.”

Translation: Give him the damn ball!

Alright, that's probably a stretch. This isn't Shaquille O'Neal spelling out his career field goal percentage and demanding to get his 20 touches per game or else -- but it is a valid point.

The Lakers have consistently gone away from Gasol during games where he's producing, which, especially in the second half of the season, has been just about all of them. He's made 72 of his 109 shots over the last eight games -- yep, 66 percent. So why not pound it inside a little bit more, especially on an afternoon when nobody else seems to be able to get anything going?

We don't know the answer, and it probably puzzled Phil Jackson as well. One of the downfalls of having a group that's as talented as the Lakers is that everyone thinks that they can step up and take the game over in time to save the day. But most of the time, they can't. Usually, it's Kobe Bryant that fills that role, and fills it more competently than almost anyone in the league can.

During games where Kobe isn't quite himself, however, maybe it's time the Lakers start to rely more on Pau Gasol. Because clearly, he's more than ready to deliver.

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