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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 LetGasolShoot.com. 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. anonymous - Mar 8, 2010 at 12:24 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…

  2. davidly - Mar 8, 2010 at 12:24 PM

    Whether Kobe is the best, one of the best, or lost a step, or, or; and whether or not Gasol has weak tendencies miss the point.
    This team is at its best when they space out and run the triangle. They aren’t even pretending to do that anymore. That’s the offense they have practiced, and it’s too late to make any radical changes to it now. Sure the superstar gets the ball in the clutch; but if you play in the clutch for forty minutes, then you get bounced in the playoffs.

  3. Jim in OC - Mar 8, 2010 at 12:27 PM

    Kobe lovers…
    Do you remember how Lakers sucked after Shaq got booted out and Lakers stole Gasol from stupid Grizzlies?
    Kobe Lovers easily forget the period before Pau’s arrival… Remeber those days when Lakers were second best team in LA??
    Remember those days when Lakers got clobbered by Tim Thomas and Suns…
    Remember those days when your dear Kobe used to take 50 Shots a game and score 35 Points and still lose the game???
    Take out Gasol… And Fakers will be back to their Glory days of 2006 !!

  4. Hoops McCann - Mar 8, 2010 at 12:37 PM

    Who are all the knuckleheads putting down Pau Gasol? Numbers don’t lie. He is statistically the 4th best power forward in the NBA just behind Bosh, Boozer and Nowitski (in that order). He is also the 10th ranked player in the entire NBA! (with a 25 ranking, just .6 tenths of a point behind Dwight Howard! Wow, what a flake. Is averaging 17.2 ponts and 11.1 rebounds a game. The second best player on the Lakers and 10th best in the NBA has every right to share his opinion on what is ailing his team. PJ, Kobe and the Lakers should listen because his comments above are 100% correct!

  5. GUNS527 - Mar 8, 2010 at 12:43 PM

    OK, in this day and age of “me -me – me’ basketball, Kobe is perhaps the best. It’s pretty difficult to compare players from 10-20-30 years ago to the current players. Now it’s all about ‘HIGHLITES’!
    It’s about Kobe. Wade, Lebron, etc. Sure, their teammates will praise the guy who made the ‘shot’, but in reality, how many really like to be the forgotten one? Yes, someone has to step up, and it’s guys like Kobe etc. who love that role. They are leaders, but a true leader is someone like Bird, Magic, Stockton, West, Malone, Drexler, etc. that were real teammates. There wasn’t a ‘me’, it was an ‘us’! The individual talents these players have is rather awesome, but I for one, like to watch a game of 5 on 5. A win is great, but selfishness is not! The bottom line now is M.P.E.( Money, Publicity and Endorsements! )

  6. Hoops McCann - Mar 8, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    PS How can you call a flagrant foul on this wus when he hits Superman on his right forearm when Superman is dunking with the ball in his right hand. Worst call I’ve ever seen. The refs should be fined for that. He gets called soft and then gets a flagrant 1 for trying to block a dunk attempt. Sickening. He gets mauled when he’s under the basket and the refs call nothing for the past 3 games. Superman gets breathed on and they call a foul. Has anyone else noticed the pattern lately against Gasol?

  7. bert - Mar 8, 2010 at 12:47 PM

    dude, even if english is your second language, you could still get names, like say “kobe” and “shaq” right. how are any of us to think you know what you are talking about when you clearly don’t even know the names of the people involved?

  8. Aaron - Mar 8, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    Gasol has a valid point about Kobe dominating the ball down the stretch and not allowing the others to stay involved – we’ve been down this road before. But maybe if Andrew Bynum was scoring more points than fouls; maybe if Artest hit just one (just one!!) of the wide open 3-point looks Kobe gives him; maybe if Gasol can actually muscle down low in the paint for a whole game and not miss point blank layups; maybe, just maybe – Kobe would give up the damn ball! But – the point is valid, let’s trust in the other players to make plays. If I’m Kobe, I would say to Gasol – ‘Okay, you want the ball big fella, I’ll give it to you, but you better produce!’ And the next time the Lakers find themselves coming down the stretch in a close game, and Kobe goes to his teamates and they fail to produce – don’t turn around and blame Kobe for the loss! You can’t have it both ways. But Kobe needs to find that balance – how much to defer, how much to dominate. That’s been the balancing act of his whole career. But to his credit, dating back to the Shaq days, when everything is on the line, he seems to strike that optimum balance – you can’t argue with the 4 rings! He doesn’t fill out a stat sheet with a bunch of assists and rebounds like Lebron James, but he’s a smart basketball player who has an intangible skill set that really makes him the best in the game.

  9. MobTown - Mar 8, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    Same stench hung over the locker room a few years ago when Kobe had a far inferior supporting cast, he’s reverting to his old self.
    Yeah it’s nice when he’s hot, but wouldn’t his last shot been better if they were able to run him around a baseline screen instead of going straight iso-dribble and pull up with hands in his face?
    I remember in last year’s finals, I think in game 4, Kobe started with 0 shots, 5 assists, 2 rebounds and a steal. He got the rest of the team hot, and then was chucking daggers in the second before the Magic even had a chance.
    Kobe, my man, isn’t it easier to play iso when the wings aren’t sagging because you’re passing and your teammates are in the flow?
    Gasol is right, stagnant offense and poor attitudes on defense will kill this team. Artest knows his role and couldn’t give a damn about scoring 5 points or 100, but Gasol, Bynum, and Odom should be getting touches on the high post, without a doubt.

  10. anonymous - Mar 8, 2010 at 12:56 PM

    for all the people who want to rag on KOBE…
    name me one time, one instance, one year where one single great player ever won a championship…….
    I don’t think MIKAN ever won by himself, neither did BOB PETTITT, neither did RUSSELL, neither did CHAMBERLAIN, neither did WEST, neither did CLYDE FRAZIER OR EARL MONROE, neither did BILL WALTON, neither did JULIUS ERVING, neither did MAGIC JOHNSON or LARRY BIRD (who had the greatest frontline in history), neither did ISIAH THOMAS, neither did MICHAEL JORDAN, neither did TIM DUNCAN……neither did SHAQ, neither did D-WADE…..nobody wins a championship by themselves, it takes a team……..
    the LAKERS will be ready when it counts and let the chips fall where they may…

  11. MobTown - Mar 8, 2010 at 12:57 PM

    Same stench hung over the locker room a few years ago when Kobe had a far inferior supporting cast, he’s reverting to his old self.
    Yeah it’s nice when he’s hot, but wouldn’t his last shot been better if they were able to run him around a baseline screen instead of going straight iso-dribble and pull up with hands in his face?
    I remember in last year’s finals, I think in game 4, Kobe started with 0 shots, 5 assists, 2 rebounds and a steal. He got the rest of the team hot, and then was chucking daggers in the second before the Magic even had a chance.
    Kobe, my man, isn’t it easier to play iso when the wings aren’t sagging because you’re passing and your teammates are in the flow?
    Gasol is right, stagnant offense and poor attitudes on defense will kill this team. Artest knows his role and couldn’t give a damn about scoring 5 points or 100, but Gasol, Bynum, and Odom should be getting touches on the high post, without a doubt.

  12. matt - Mar 8, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    Pau was not saying that he should get the ball in the end but that by having Kobe take every shot, the team loses all flow in offense. If they ran their triangle offense, everyone is involved. It would not be a one on one scenario, that happens every time down the stretch with Kobe. Because Kobe is the main weapon, he will still get 50% of the shots while running their offense. Pau is not demanding the ball over Kobe, he just doesn’t want the other four players on the floor to be spectators in the final quarter.

  13. EA - Mar 8, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    Lets cut through the chase! Kobe is a major ball-hogger adn a crybaby. He needs to do more teamwork to get his team back in shape.
    Long live LeBron James. He is more athetlic and explosive than Kobe ever will be. Kobe may have the rings and glory for now, but LeBron will be remember as a better skilled and versatile player than Kobe can ever dream of.
    That is if he can remain in one piece as we have seen that is falling apart with injuries like, ankles , fingers, etc.

  14. TMH - Mar 8, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    A Top 5 palyer of all time? Kobe? Give me a break… Even Stoudemire of the Suns has one more 40 plus point game than Kobe… King James is obviously a much better player and will go down as the best all-time… Kobes play is already diminishing, without a teams help, Kobe has seen his last ring…

  15. nbafan - Mar 8, 2010 at 1:13 PM

    The point Pau is making:
    When the Magic have everyone scoring, Barnes, Lewis, Howard, Vince, everyone is a threat, that is because the ball is moving. They arent just relying on one guy. The Lakers are not displaying any offensive balance or versatility yet they have the personnel.
    Receiving the ball via ball movement, side to side is much different than receiving the ball as a dumpoff because Kobe had nowhere else to go with the ball. Kobe is the only guy with the ball and defenses know that and play that way. There is no rhythm, no flow to the game for the other players. Play as a team, be a threat as a team, then defenses cannot key in on Kobe because they will have to respect the other 4. Right now, they know Kobe will go to isolation and its much easier to play defense that way.

  16. JMurph - Mar 8, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    When Gasol first made this comment back in the beginning of February, I couldn’t have agreed more with what he said. I felt at that point in time that he and Bynun needed to get more touches to balance out the offense.
    So I’m thinking in my head, Gasol is gonna take advantage of his touches when he gets them. You know…let his game speak for itself. In my opinion he is one of the most skilled big men in the league right now. I know he is soft but he can shoot which really makes him a match up problem for centers if he can get his 20 footers to drop.
    But as of late he hasnt been playing to that strength. He tries to establish his presence in the post first, trying to match muscle with guys who are stronger(or at least play more physical) than he does. When he can get a big man to play him honest becaus he’s knocking down jump shots and then beat him with his speed, that’s when he is at his best. Yesterday is a prime example. He’s trying to back down Dwight Howard(strongest center in the league) and gets his shot blocked on multiple occasions. So then Gortat(not nearly as strong as Dwight but a great interior defender) comes into the game and he tries to do the same thing with Gortat. Gortat blocked his shot as well. Gasol gets the ball and is too busy trying to prove he isn’t soft instead of just playing his game.
    Regardless of who’s getting how many touches, the losing streak is because of the lack of effort given at a time when NO Laker has the ball…on defense.

  17. Ziggy - Mar 8, 2010 at 1:40 PM

    What does the spinmaster say about this ??

  18. larry - Mar 8, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    i know you all are kobe lovers… but gasol has a point. it’s a team game. as good as kobe is, they needed gasol to win a championship you can’t take that away from him.. criticize with your mind not with your heart. remember mj passing the ball to steve kerr to win the game?

  19. Walter - Mar 8, 2010 at 2:26 PM

    What is Gasol talking about? He is playing soft the last couple of games, and he is crying over shots? Why don’t he play defense (not playing soft) and let the triangle offense work for him? He can’t even stop his shadow at this moment.

  20. Dave A. - Mar 8, 2010 at 2:32 PM

    Pau looks tired out there, probably from playing all summer in Europe. Fisher? Big time liability on defense and his scoring is to minimal to be a starter. He would be better coming off the bench to help the second unit. Bynum seems kind of tired too. Remember, He hasn’t played the whole season in a while. That leaves Kobe to try to do it all on defense and offense. My 2cents.

  21. Anonymous - Mar 8, 2010 at 2:32 PM

    First of all, ever single player needs someelse to help win it all… thats why its a team sport! MJ had Pippen and Rodman, Shaq had kobe, then wade.. so all this talk of Kobe cant do it on his own is because you dont win championships with one good player, you need a balanced team (think the 2003? Pistons). But yes Kobe does hold the ball in the fourth quarter but he does make a high percentage of the tough shots when his team needs them!

  22. bryrule - Mar 8, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    Kobe does shoot the ball too much. He is not an efficient scorer. On most nights he need just as many shots to score points. For instance 30 field goal attempts plus foul shots to score 34 points is not a good game. That amount of shots allows the Lakers to be defended alot more easily.
    As a matter of fact, Kobe Bryant is not even among the top five efficient players in the league. Also, he is starting to look old and a step slower.
    This may be startling to all you Kobe fans, but he didn’t win another title until they got a top five post player in Gasol. With that being said, all comparisons to MJ are off the table.
    I’m out of here like a true fan.

  23. JB - Mar 8, 2010 at 2:45 PM

    C’mon Bobthis… Kobe is great, But top 5??! He’s barely top 10 material. I’ll name them if U want. Lebron has been the best player in the league the last 2 years and will prove it in June. Unlike Jordan; Kobe makes none of his teammates better. When was the last time he made a pass to win the game? Jordan may have dominated the ball, but on many ocassions he hit Paxson, Kerr, Hodges, Harper, Purdue, Wennington and other reserves for game winners. I’m tired of folks insulting Jordan with these Kobe comparisons. Give Gasol some credit for voicing his opinion; because this Lakers team does not look championship ready or hungry. I’ll be impressed if they repeat.

  24. Anonymous - Mar 8, 2010 at 2:50 PM

    ????
    You are dead right! If everyone else would step up to the plate, I don’t think Kobe would have a problem distributing the ball to his teammates. His teammates missed shots, after shots. Besides his guards and forwards don’t shot the ball consisently like Cleveland team does.
    Bottom Line: I don’t blame him to shoot the S*&#T!!!

  25. Nick - Mar 8, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    Let’s be honest…Kobe took 16 shots in the 4th quarter. 16! That number would rank him among the league leaders per 48 minutes of play. That has nothing to do with Gasol disappearing. Lol everyone disappears when one guy takes 16 shots in a quarter. The lakers play best when they’re moving the ball, utilizing their big men, and playing aggressive defense (lots of turnovers, fast breaks, etc.).
    Kobe kills their tempo in the 4th quarter. This is not how he played last year in the playoffs – sure he got the ball a lot, but there were many key pieces and heroes, even in crunchtime. FIsher hit big shots, Ariza made big plays..in yesterday’s game, it was all kobe..noone else even had a chance..

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