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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. christina - Mar 8, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    what are you guys talking about?? if lakers were winning the games they should have won, then yea, maybe i can see where most of you gasol haters r coming from. gasol has a good shooting percentage and he puts his big bird body out there for kobe. so all in all, yea he should be entitled to say whats on his mind.
    i remember when bulls were playing the jazz and right down to the crunch time, MJ had the ball and everyone thought he was going to make the last shot to seal the win- nope he passed it to steve kerr. just think of all the other things ppl would have said if steve kerr had not made it. or if MJ had taken the shot instead and missed and kerr had said soemthing about it after the game “like i was open.”
    Kobe has to understand that he’s not gonna always be young and unstoppable. he’s near the end of his prime (not quite) and gonna have to see a healthy lebron for the next 5 or 10 years, you need to start building a foundation that’s based on trust and reliance. if gasol leaves, kobe is worst off b/c everyone who can be a scotty pippen or a dennis rodman to Kobe, wont wanna come to play as a Laker b/c of kobe’s reputation as a self-absorbed, ego-centric maniac. this lakers team will never be considered as one of the best championship teams until it stops being a one-player basketball team.

  2. anonymous - Mar 8, 2010 at 2:59 PM

    so KOBE never passed the rock in playoff competition
    what about game 7 of the 2000 western conference finals when he passed the famous alley oop pass to SHAQ to take the lead and eventually when the series
    oh yeah, the 2001 western conference first round against PORTLAND when we swept them, KOBE passed to game winning shots to ROBERT HORRY in pressure situation
    oh yeah, what about the 2001 wcf semifinals against the SPURS when KOBE practically averaged a triple double….
    oh yeah, what about the 2006 western conference first round against the SUNS when the LAKERS took a surprising 3-1 lead against a team that was one of the top 3 teams in basketball, KOBE facilitated the offense and was averaging over 8 assists per game
    oh yeah, let’s not forget about the 2008 run when the LAKERS advance to the finals when nobody expected them to advanced pass the first round, key pass after key pass during the playoff run
    oh yeah, last but not least, game 4 of 2009 finals, LAKERS took the commanding 3-1 series lead on the MAGIC when KOBE passed to the open man, DEREK FISHER who made the dagger shot……
    at the end of the day, KOBE is a 4 time champion, period……

  3. Tax Analyst - Mar 8, 2010 at 2:59 PM

    If they ran the triangle the whole game and worked the ball inside-out instead of “Kobe outside, dribble back-and-forth-right-hand-to-left-hand while the shot-clock gets down to 5 or 6 seconds” these games wouldn’t even be coming down to the wire. They have looked great at times when they run the triangle consistently and often run up double-digit leads…which disappear as soon as Kobe decides he needs to “take over the game”. Kobe is a fantastic player and they cannot/would not win a title without him, but if he would only realize how hard he makes things that ought to be easy they wouldn’t have to depend on last-second heroics nearly as often. The last play against Orlando he loped up the court and didn’t hit the front court until about 5 seconds left so there was no chance of passing to another player – he hit front court at “5” and did a little dribble feint and then there were less than 4 seconds – not enough time to throw a cross-court pass/catch & take an unhurriedly shot – he had at least a couple guys open – particularly Fish with an open 3 in the far corner. IMO if he had pushed it up faster, passed and then cut off the pass they either would have gotten a clean shot or a pass back to KB for a better last shot. What he did was completely predictable and defensed well enought so that his last shot was of the low-percentage variety. It was extremely frustrating and annoying to see the way it unfolded.

  4. Tax Analyst - Mar 8, 2010 at 3:07 PM

    That’s a very good assessment, Nick. It’s exactly what I saw yesterday (and too many other times this season). When they run the triangle instead of having Kobe freeze the ball to run a one-man show they often look very, very good. When Kobe freezes it the other players CANNOT effectively run their parts of the triangle…it doesn’t work if one player does not play their role…especially the one with the ball.
    Kobe is a fantastic player, but if they want to win another title he is going to have to tone down the one-man heroic stuff a bit and include the other 4 players in the equation a whole lot more than he’s doing right now.

  5. e.m.ali - Mar 8, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    now i guess he knows how Andrew feels when he gets it going & has the other team on the run…then old Phil gives him the yank puts him on the wood till hes as cool as ice & Gasol is running out of gas & looks it.then its get in there Drew work your butt off & if you get going I”ll yank you again;so Gasol can get the few touches that are not going to Kobe. bet drew is damn sick of it too

  6. terry - Mar 8, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    We all give props to Kobe for being a great player. But ppl please stop comparing him to the legendary greatest players. Everyone has their time and it has been Kobe’s, but another young player will come and take the reign. I agree with alot of the comments above. Everyone has their own style and talent. But the greatest will always be the greatest. Bball is a team sport and no matter what, one person cannot win the game, ask the greats in the past and they will tell you.

  7. sjt - Mar 8, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    Did you even watch the Olympics? Did you see Wade kept passing to Kobe in crunch time and of course Kobe came through clutch as usual.

  8. Sonics Fan - Mar 8, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    I bet Lebron comes to Lakers and Kobe goes to Chicago, Cleveland getting several players in return. Kobe wants to be MJ so bad, Chicago would be there for him to “take over”. Kobe might go to New York, too!! The only place Lebron could go and expand his “Name” is Los Angeles, New York just can’t do as much for him, besides the beach is really close.
    Kobe has spent his life being all about “Kobe”, it’s hard to change when it is your only play. The only time I saw the Lakers kick tail this year was when Kobe was hurt and not playing. Phil needs to be the coach, not Kobe. Yes, I’m still pouting about the loss of our team.

  9. ItsShoTime - Mar 8, 2010 at 3:59 PM

    This notion of Kobe being the best closer is misleading.
    Kobe took 30 shots yesterday, and only made 12. If any All-Star just shot that much he would have a lot of 4th quarter points.
    But it’s way too inefficient, I think with the Barnes fighting Kobe reverting to his oldself and wanted to win it himself. But for a team as talented as ours, it is not smart bball.

  10. RYAN - Mar 8, 2010 at 4:02 PM


  11. Reinman - Mar 8, 2010 at 4:19 PM

    Kobe is a great individual player but not as a team player. To win a game you need all five player to balance the game. This year as I watched him play, he always demand the ball even his other team mates are open. Now you tell me why other players like Gasul, Bynumm or Odom are not playing because they’re not getting that many touches. When Brant was out, the Lakers are playing team basketball that’s the reason they were succesful because everyone getting touches and i believe most of those players are on double figures during those 5 games. If Lakers want to win another ring Kobe should know what team basketball is and stop chasing the scoreboard to be number one of all time.

  12. jjla - Mar 8, 2010 at 4:50 PM

    Until U armchair players view the Whole game and compare The Superstars treatment by the overall calls against them/in thier favor,game changing calls that work on the players concentration,it is possible that some of you haters may see things differently when you are trying to compare one player against another. My question; In the N.B.A LeBron takes it to the hole,you can’t touch him or maybe other players are affraid of him but,I’m just saying call the game without BIAS,some of the fouls that are over looked is border line criminal.Coby does not skin -n-grin nor is he a CLOWN.

  13. josh - Mar 8, 2010 at 5:03 PM

    Everybody piling on Gasol is wrong… Yes Kobe is playing spectacularly, and maybe he is even starting to believe again that he can do it all by himself…? Maybe we may see another 80+ game this year? Kobe is looking fantastic. But Gasol is right… even if this player or that player isn’t totally as good as Kobe, even if it is harder and more difficult to RUN THE OFFENSE as designed and get everybody involved… eventually it pays off. If they are executing the offense, the inside out, the inside possessions, the kickouts, all the triangle rotations, then the team becomes stronger. Because right now, if it isn’t Kobe shooting (which he can shoot all night as far as I’m concerned, he makes his own shots and is flawless), then it is Fisher or Farmar chucking shots up there… They REALLY need to get Bynum and Gasol into the flow, and then for pete’s sake you’ve got Odom and ARTEST there too!! There’s no reason to go one on five… and it’s not Kobe’s fault either, all those players should be running their plays, and strongly playing without the ball every play. Don’t worry, the Lakers will improve… this is when PJ starts “coaching”/teaching and the team (and Kobe) makes another leap forward in skill and teamwork and cohesiveness. It is a GOOD sign that Gasol wants more, wants to do better, is passionate about the teams. They are starting to get meaner and ready for the playoffs. Can’t WAIT to see LA v Dallas

  14. JUSTIN - Mar 8, 2010 at 5:03 PM

    Maybe if your comment was posted six year ago you would be dead on. Kobe has not been that type of player that dominates the possesion the entire game for years. Kobe is now often criticized for not taking over earlier in the game. He bides his time throughout the first three quarters to allow his team to get into a rythm. The only thing that Kobe needs to do now is find balane throughout the game. Once the lakers as a team are able to play together all game with Kobe being enough a part of the offense to strike at any time all this chatter will stop. But lets not get ahead of ourselves here, Kobe is still Kobe and the Lakers are still the defending champions with the best record in the west. And lets lay off Phil Jackson. He has 10 rings. Im sure after all this time he knows how to control his team.

  15. christina - Mar 8, 2010 at 5:21 PM

    yup yup.

  16. luffy - Mar 8, 2010 at 7:24 PM

    Remove bynum from the starting lineup and put Gasol to Center position so he could prove his toughness. the PF position seems to make him weaker/soft + the Odom, Gasol, Artest backcourt is more effective…
    As for Kobe, you haters out there say what you want but come Playoffs, Phil Jackson will show the true Lakers swagger…

  17. wizard of Ozola - Mar 8, 2010 at 7:30 PM


  18. Laker4Life - Mar 8, 2010 at 7:52 PM

    LOL, I love all the Kobe haters that seem to forget that during this year he’s had a broken finger, sprained ankle, back spasms and other assorted ailments that many players would have taken time off for but he played thru most of it… Everyone also forgets that the Lakers WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP last year and just aren’t as hungry this year, except for Kobe… Gasol is a great player and he is correct in his point that the team plays better when they’re moving the ball, but he also needs to remember that when no 1 is stepping up and making shots, that’s when Kobe takes over… Yesterday, the defense was being abused, no 1 was making shots and Pau was gettin pushed around and the double teams were killin him… Let’s not forget the Lakers are still in the lead in the West and when it comes to a playoff series no 1 can get a team ready like Phil! Still gonna take the championship this year too!! Lebron, best ever…lol He’s on a team where he has to do everything…lol Mo Williams an All star…lmao

  19. Lion Woods - Mar 8, 2010 at 8:14 PM

    Paul Gasol and the Lakers will be just fine. The only problem I had last night against Orlando was that I thought Gasol or one of many bench players should have got in Matt Barnes grill. Barnes’ unsportsmanship in Sunday’s contest made the refs look totally intimidated by the home crowd. Barnes contacted Bryant with a shoulder shove on numerous occasions and should not have been tolerated. Rod Thorn isn’t that the guy who an NBA’r doesn’t want to hear from. Step up NBA and fine Barnes for his unsportsmanlike conduct perpetuated on one of the games greatest talents in Kobe Bryant.

  20. bbb - Mar 8, 2010 at 8:27 PM

    Lakers have talent. It will take more then just talent for any team to win it all this year. Lots of great teams out west and the east certainly has improved. No guarantees. Thats what really makes this year fun to watch and debate.
    Really only about 8 teams that really create a threat and should be taken seriosly.
    Here is my east list: Clev, Boston, orl, Atl
    West: Lakers, Mavs, Den, Jazz,
    Wildcards are in the west: OKC Thunders playing very strong.
    Spurs, raise doubts with Parker injury.
    Suns, when there hot watch out
    Might as well throw in the Blazers
    As much talent as the Lakers have…I doubt they will have the best record in the West. Lakers had a very soft schedule to open the season. Still, they have the talent and will see how well they do against the WILD WEST.
    My favorite for the moment is the JAZZ. The lack some consistency but are fun to watch. Deron Williams can light it up.
    Orlando in the east. I cringe because Cleveland has Lebron but the momentum is in Magics hands right now.
    This year, anything can happen!

  21. Anonymous - Mar 8, 2010 at 8:29 PM

    With coaches like Red Auerbach, Chuck Daly, Bill Fitch, Red Holzman, Phil Jackson, Don Nelson, Jack Ramsey, or Lenny Wilkins, Coby would not even have made the starting lineup, if starting point guards like Kevin Johnson, Jason Kidd, Tiny Archibald, Gary Payton, Walt Frazier, Bob Cousy, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Oscar Robertson or Magic Johnson were on the team he would never have seen the Point Guard position on the playing floor. The only reason Coby is even around, is because of the Lakers system that promoted him. He has become a late game scorer because of their system. Other teams rarely ever depend on only one ball handler for the whole remainder of a winable game in the last seconds. They would run curls deep or baseline, and bring there shooter out around a screen and get a good shot. I officiated over 1000 basketball games in my younger days. With Cobys’ attitude and ego he might make my top 100 list if he ever gets smart!

  22. lgg - Mar 8, 2010 at 8:54 PM

    With Coaches like Red Auerbach, Chuck Daly, Bill Fitch, Red Holsman, Phil Jackson, Don Nelson, Jack Ramsey, or Lenny Wilkens, Koby would never have made the starting lineup as a point guard, and probably not at any possition. With point guards like Keven Johnson, Jason Kidd, Tiny Archibald, Gary Payton, Walt Frazier, Bob Cousy, John Stockton, Isiah Thomas, Oscar Robertson, or Magic Johnson, Koby would never have handled the ball at the end of a close game, because he would not have been in the game. Most teams would run a deep curl and a screen for their best pressure shooter and get a good shot.
    If it was not for the Lakers system that promoted Kobys’ style, he most likelly would not even be arround. Their style promotes egos, big heads, and showboats like Koby at the cost of the rest of the team.
    A retired referee who worked over 1000 basketball games.

  23. citizen - Mar 9, 2010 at 5:46 AM

    Hey there, Is it Ig. or Igg? Is it all right if I call ya Iggy?
    Anyhow, what did ya ref there Igster, Little League?
    No matter what you think of him, at least learn how to spell his name correctly.
    It’s Kobe! Not Coby. And not Koby either, ref! Kobe!
    And while your at it, why don’t ya pick and stick to One spelling for your own name too, ref!

  24. davidly - Mar 9, 2010 at 7:33 AM

    I remember many stretches in the PJ era Bulls during which Jordan would take on too much offensive responsibility and the triangle would get bogged down. The result would be a stretch of games where the team loses confidence in the team.
    One need look no further than the 94/95 season to see what happens when a seasoned team runs their offense and plays strong team defense. But for one foul call, Chicago very well could have contended for the championship that year.
    Now I’m not saying that Chicago was better without Jordan – far from it. But they were at their best when the offense flowed. Kobe is no Jordan. Period. But I’m also not saying – just because the Kobe-less Lakers put together a string of wins this year – that they are better without him. Far from it. But they need to play like a team.
    It is easier to recognize brilliant team play sometimes with the superstar on the bench, because the superstar talent doesn’t overshadow the team effort.
    Will these Lakers get it flowing again? We’ll see.

  25. bobthis - Mar 9, 2010 at 9:27 AM

    Hey MTD what are you smoking?

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