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Pau Gasol wants the damn ball

Mar 8, 2010, 8:53 AM EDT

Thumbnail image for Gasol_game.jpgMaybe he should start That seems to work.

Kobe Bryant was relatively pleased after the Lakers loss to Orlando, saying that after a couple of sloppy efforts the Lakers really turned it on in this one and were just a couple of breaks away from the win.

Of course he thought that — he took all the shots down the stretch (too many with his toe on the line). As he did in Miami on Thursday. When the game gets close, the Lakers go into isolation for Kobe mode and a triangle just becomes something they try to teach kids about on Sesame Street.

Pau Gasol’s pretty sick of it. He wants the damn ball.

“We haven’t been playing with a good flow out there offensively and it takes a lot of people out of their rhythm,” Gasol said. “We need to figure out how to move the ball a lot more so there’s a flow out there, there’s a rhythm.”

When Gasol was pointedly asked if the offense was being bogged down by how many shots Bryant has been attempting. He answered, “I don’t know” at first, but then made the point…

“Kobe’s a great player,” Gasol said. “We have to find balance as a team, as a unit out there. Kobe’s a great player and he’s probably the best offensive player out there. We understand that … But at the same time, we need to find that balance and we need to find balance with our interior game developing, it a little more and using it a little more and moving the ball and changing sides more because, that’s the triangle, that’s what it does … We need to get focused on that a little more. To find that balance, to find that flow.”

Maybe you were expecting Drill Sergeant like yelling and frustration. Not going to happen. You need to be around the mild mannered, thoughtful Gasol for a while to know that is him pretty much yelling. And he knows he has to be careful about speaking out against Kobe on the Lakers, this is still his team. Messing with Kobe rarely ends well.

But Gasol has a point — Bryant took 16 shots in the fourth quarter against Orlando, Gasol just four. And three of those four came on putbacks off offensive rebounds.

Kobe Bryant is the best closer in the NBA, despite that fact the Lakers become easier to defend down the stretch of games because of all the isolation. When the Lakers did run plays, it was to get Kobe the ball coming off screens. There becomes little variety to what the Lakers do late, they just have the talent to get away with it.

There’s a myriad of issues slowing the Lakers offense down (Orlando’s defense was one of them) like not running the offense properly, not spacing the floor well, being able to get passes into the post, not cutting and moving without the ball, not hitting outside shots so that defenses can collapse on Gasol and Andrew Bynum. To name a few.

Getting Gasol some crunch-time touches doesn’t solve all of these issues. But it’s a start.

  1. Bobthis - Mar 8, 2010 at 9:29 AM

    There is no doubt that Kobe is the best player in the NBA and maybe top five of all time. That being said he still doesn’t trust his team mates. It’s ok to want to be a closer in the last 60 seconds but Kobe wants to be the closer for 48 minutes. Like Jordan he wants to dominate all night. If the Lakers want another championship there has to be some changes starting with Phil Jackson regaining control of the team.

  2. ??? - Mar 8, 2010 at 10:13 AM

    i watched that game and Gasol should have be very quiet. As hard as i try to be a fan he makes it really hard. He is 7 feet tall and he plays like his is 6 feet tall. Watching game tape will show Gasol constantly being pushed around by both Dwight Howard and Gortat. On the offense end Gasol was timid and had no offense aside from put backs. The offense does not flow through him because he is allows smaller defenders to push him away from the basket where he he resorts to shooting jumps shots. If a team is going to shoot 10-12 footers then the guard and forwards should shoot them. When you center is shooting jump shots that also concedes any chance for an offensive rebound. Every time Gasol was under the bucket he got pushed aound. Instead of whining about getting the ball he should have been running down the floor to play defense instead of giving Howard and easy three point play in crunch time. I would like to see Kobe defer more but if i have to have a guy shoot a 10 foot jumper in cruch time it won’t be my center.

  3. D.Carter - Mar 8, 2010 at 10:27 AM

    Tell Gasol to get in the weight room and then we will talk.

  4. R. Khan - Mar 8, 2010 at 10:46 AM

    I don’t get why Gasol feel he has room to complain? Did you see him during the game? Oh that’s right… you didn’t. He disappeared. Again. It isn’t even him playing soft, because even then he was a great player. He’s disappeared this season. Where is he?

  5. mrtljt - Mar 8, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    I was at that game. He stunk as he always does. Does Gasol eat fried chicken before every game? That guy has the worst hands in the NBA. Grossly overated and overpaid! He would be the last person you would want with the ball with game on the line. Too weak and soft for the NBA. He should go back to Spain or wherever he is from. He might dominate in that league. NBA not for him.

  6. MTD - Mar 8, 2010 at 10:50 AM

    Lebron is the best currently and Kobe isn’t even top 10 of all tim. All that being said, Gasol knew Kobe was selfish when he went there and he isn’t clutch at all. I know cause I’m a Grizzly fan.

  7. Jen - Mar 8, 2010 at 10:53 AM

    Gasol looks like big bird out there with no body control and it would help if he could actually score consistently. He should keep his comments to himself because he can’t back up what he’s complaining about.

  8. Justin - Mar 8, 2010 at 11:00 AM

    There’s a reason Gasol doesn’t get the ball in the clutch. Same with Bynum.

  9. Joseph - Mar 8, 2010 at 11:08 AM

    Kobe is not the best closer in basketball. Wade is by far – he takes over all games he is in ranging from the olympics to allstar game to league play. Place wade in the lakers offense and you wouldn’t even need to play the playoffs – they would be that good

  10. Steve - Mar 8, 2010 at 11:13 AM

    BoBthis, I don’t think Kobe is the best player in the NBA. For my money, I’d take Lebron. The only thing Kobe has over Lebron is crunch time. All of the other facets of the game, I’ll take Lebron. He goes to the hoop better, rebounds better, creates more opportunities for his teammates, is a better teammate, and has a MUCH better shooting % from 2P land and 3P land. Actually, the more I look at it, I don’t see it being that close.
    As for Gasol, I’m sure he’s frustrated, but that’s part of playing with Kobe. What makes it worse is they aren’t winning quite as much as normal and with Kobe in and out of the lineup with different injuries and illnesses, it makes it really hard to have any rhythym at all.

  11. Anonymous - Mar 8, 2010 at 11:16 AM

    if it wansnt for him the lakers as great as koby is woulnt have won their last championship ring cause ass we know koby coulnt do it by himself after shack left so dont go and make koby be this super player cause as great as he is he still need all this players to win is not all about him….

  12. chris - Mar 8, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    wade is the best closer? lol! you gotta be kidding me.
    reality check: kobe has had more game-winning shots this season than wade in his whole career. plus more 4th quarter points than wade.
    nice try…

  13. coachal - Mar 8, 2010 at 11:37 AM

    kobe is the best in the NBA? Top 5 of all time? You just shot down your credibility with your first sentence. Luckily you redemmed yourself. I’m glad that you showed some intelligence of basketball with the rest of your comments at least. I thought you were going to be just one of those blinded kobe worshippers.
    It’s already been proven.
    FACT: Kobe CANNOT win it all alone. He needs help. Regardless, how bad the Lakers are struggling right now though, i don’t see anybody beating them in a series. So I’m not worried about them although I’m not a fan of THIS Lakers team.
    p.s. Kobe probably maybe makes the top 5 of the LAKERS all time, but with names like Jerry West, Kareem Abdul Jabaar, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, James Worthy, and Shaquille O’neal it’d be a long argument.

  14. skeptimystic - Mar 8, 2010 at 11:38 AM

    Pau is advertising his weakness. Give him the ball? His hands have been in the buttered popcorn. If he wants the ball in the paint, he has to dominate in the paint. And Pau just hasn’t been dominating lately. I sense that all is not well in Lakerland. I think Pau may think the team is better without Kobe and that his problems in the paint are Kobe related. He sure as hell wouldn’t say it, but he might say that the wins without Kobe shows how good the team is. They are not Kobe related. These are mental problems on the floor and he needs to get mentally into the game. He has not been himself the past few weeks and he needs to get off this idea that he can lead the team. He is a vital member. A key to their success. But, he is not their leader. Get your brain back in the game Pau…the rest will follow

  15. Todd - Mar 8, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    I have to start thinking for myself more. The announcers keep saying how great Pau Gasol is, but I have yet to see even a hint of this “greatness” or even very-goodness. His play at the end of the Orlando game typified his playing style, which is weak, slippery and sloppy. But Andrew Bynum is also slippery, sloppy and soft – so what can you do. Give the ball to Kobe please, until somebody else shows that they can get it done.

  16. Keith - Mar 8, 2010 at 11:43 AM

    Bobthis – I’m sorry to tell you this but Kobe is not the best player in the NBA. That’s not to say that he has been one of the best in years past but Kobe just might not be in the Top 5 now. True he can hit that last second jumper like no one else in the league but his take it to the hoop days are over. Denver, Dallas, Cleveland and Orlanda will stoop LA. Sorry but if Kobe wants #5 he had better start sharing that ball or LA might be looking for another superstar…namely Lebron James!

  17. Anonymous - Mar 8, 2010 at 11:51 AM

    MTD-Kobe has more game winners this season than Lebron his whole career. If he is not clutch, then Lebron is completely worthless.

  18. robert - Mar 8, 2010 at 11:52 AM

    How in God’s name you can compare Wilt as a Laker and much past his prime, Worthy at all and even Elgin Baylor to Kobe is outright stupidity. Worthy was a third option. Jeez. Baylor played in an era where NBA players were not nearly as good of athletes. Same goes for West. He was a great player but ever bit as obsessed and selfish as Kobe.
    I don’t know where Kobe fits in all time all NBA and I don’t care. But to even think for a moment that Kobe is not all time top 5 Lakers is just ignorant.

  19. jerry - Mar 8, 2010 at 11:57 AM

    My two cents: Lebron is probably the best in NBA currently because he has overall game. He could play in the NFL!
    Kobe is a great player but is not in the top 5 Laker list (yet).

  20. Flavar - Mar 8, 2010 at 11:58 AM

    Kobe is what he is; like him or love him, he still is a bad dude. I would give him the ball with the clock running down everytime. “Experience and rings earn you that right.” Even MJ had to have a supporting cast to win, and Gasol is a very good support player, he can comment/complain, but Remember Bill Cartwright(Bulls Center)? Slow, couldn’t guard anyone with athletic talent in the post (Dwight Howard today), Six Championship rings. He was nowhere as good as Gasol is today. All you need is that Star player like Kobe and your chances are better than not. Lebron may be the best player right now, but he still hasn’t won any Championships. If he ever gets injured (and he will), call me and than will see how great he is. When it comes to winning Championships I’ll take Kobe over the rest right now, broken finger and all.

  21. GUNS527 - Mar 8, 2010 at 12:10 PM

    Gasol did make a valid point. Not necessarily demanding the ball more, but involving the 5 guys on the court is his point. Kobe is great, but it seems as if everygame that goes down to the wire, it’s give the ball to Kobe. So he makes the game winner in game 1 & game 2 (WOW…did you see that?) and then misses in game 3 and game 4. That’s .500, and you won’t win a title with that record. Remember how well the Lakers played without Kobe? Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of Kobe, but if the plan is ‘he will win it for us’, well, it isn’t going to happen. You involve the 5 guys, and things will open up for the right person to make that game-winner, or at least get the best look at the rim. Phil does have to put his foot down, and re-think some strategies at crunch-time. Either that, or Phil is just an assistant to the coach on the floor.

  22. Hammer57 - Mar 8, 2010 at 12:16 PM

    I can admit that Kobe is a great player/scorer in the NBA. But he is also the biggest ball hog also. It’s definately a team sport. Lakers have suffered with that every since he was drafted. And his big ego does not let him share the ball because at the end of the game he wants all the glory win or loose. Hence you get that comment he thought the game was played well in Orlando, because he put up the final shot. That’s the reason he has all the numbers on game closing shots,no one else on the team makes that shot. It was a rift between Kobe and Shak a few years ago and now the rift will be Kobe vs Pau. Kobe is all about Kobe, and his ego. Still not saying he isn’t one of the best but he’s getting off track again. You can’t perfect your game if you don’t have the ball. And Pua is getting frustrated with that, hence the way he is performing in the arena. Also Lebron and Kobe couldn’t exist on the same floor, who would take the the game closing shot? Kobe would, Lebron wouldn’t put up with that scenario very long.

  23. JOYCE - Mar 8, 2010 at 12:17 PM

    Thank you Chris. Joseph is obviously not a real B-Ball fanatic, if he was he’d know the stats KOBE is the best closer in Basketball

  24. Phil B - Mar 8, 2010 at 12:19 PM

    Kobe is a very selfish player, and the Lakers are counting on this, sometimes it works for them, other times it does not work to be playing like that. He is supposed to reinforce his teamates confidence. Look at Shaq before, and many others that used to be good with another team, hated playing with Kobe. Seems like Kobe has always complained about his teamates. Finding them not good enough for his majesty. Now he has about the best combo of big man (Gasol is awesome, Bynum is great too) but Kobe decides not to use their strength. All I can say is, I would just absolutely hate to play with a player like Kobe, where me me me is the first option to the detriment of the team. So you have players that do not like to play with him, last time I checked basketball was a team sport. Kobe wants to find harmony with his teamates or else … End of the championship baby!

  25. anonymous - Mar 8, 2010 at 12:23 PM

    okay……this is the thing….
    1.) it’s hard to defend a championship
    2.) every team gears up to play THE LAKERS, we get everyone’s best effort, that’s game in game out…
    3.) let’s say just for the sake of argument that KOBE is no longer the game’s greatest player…just for the sake of assumption, even if that was true, this guy has been the best player in basketball for the past 7-8 seasons..even SHAQ said during 2001 that KOBE was the best player in the league and he said that live on tv….that’s a loooooong time to be considered the very best in your sport, so in regards to his stature in the game, nobody can dispute that…
    4.) i’m frustrated by the LAKERS play for sure, no excuses, but at the end of the day, KOBE is a 4 time champion, that’s one more championship than the great LARRY BIRD, who’s one of the top 5 greatest players ever to play this game…..
    5.) KOBE’S greatness is taken for granted because his game resembles the greatest ever, MICHAEL JORDAN, but even in that, the mere fact that KOBE continues to pursue JORDAN’S stature and has done so by incremental stages, KOBE, to me, as of right now, is one of the top 7 greatest players to have played this game, I love JERRY WEST, but KOBE is a greater player, has won more championships and is just as clutch, more clutch than WEST was during this brilliant career
    6.) 4 championships is amazing no matter how you slice that…..I’m out…

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