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Kobe Bryant starts annual playoff pushing of Pau Gasol

Apr 18, 2011, 2:23 PM EDT

Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol

Every late April the weather starts to warm, flowers start to poke their heads out of the ground, birds undertake their migrations and Kobe Bryant starts pushing Pau Gasol to be more aggressive. It is one of the rights of spring.

It started Sunday night, when Gasol struggled to score or defend the pick-and-roll, two of the things that were at the heart of the Hornet’s Game 1 upset of the Lakers. Chris Paul is the best all-around point guard in the game and given room he abused Gasol, pulling the big man out into space then shooting over him or making pinpoint passes to teammates.

Gasol owned up to it, as quoted at ESPN’s Land O’ Lakers blog.

“I was just not very sharp. I couldn’t get into a good rhythm in the first quarter. I didn’t get myself going at all. So it’s up to me to get some energy out there and be a little more aggressive and find ways to find that rhythm.”

Nor did Gasol bite when the assembled media asked in multiple ways if his anemic stats were due to a lack of touches. “Maybe I let that effect me a little bit early on in the game, but I can’t afford that,” he said. “I’ve got to be more aggressive. I’ve got to make myself available, whether the ball is coming or not. I’ve got to be there, and get myself active and don’t get discouraged whatsoever if the ball is not coming. You’ve got to pursue it sometimes, and in different ways. I had zero offensive rebounds, that’s something I don’t like at all.”

Gasol is intelegent and self motivated — he knows what he has to do.

That doesn’t mean Kobe isn’t going to give him a kick in the… um, behind.

“We could have gotten a little bit more out of everybody. But Pau is our guy. He’s our guy. He’s the next in line. Responsibility and the pressure comes along with that,” he said, “and he’ll be ready to go next game…

“Rightfully so. I put pressure on myself. It’s one and two, it’s me and him. We’ve got to deal with it. When you get all the praise when things go your way, [you also] get all the blame when things don’t. It’s part of the seats we sit in,” Kobe said of the pressure he’s putting on Gasol. “It’s just [a matter of] him being aggressive. He’s one of the best in the world.”

This little movie has played out the last three playoffs almost the same way. It wouldn’t feel like the postseason in L.A. without it. And based on history, look for a better game from Gasol, and look for the Lakers to actually get the ball inside to him more early in the game this time around.

  1. davidly - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    Two observations:
    1) Once again, whenever the ball did make its way in to the post, nobody was making any cuts, or hardly moving off-ball at all.

    2) Did anyone else see what looked like Gasol copping a bit of attitude vis a vis Bryant midway through the 4th last night? I first noticed it on a ball out following a Hornets’ score. He kind of tossed the ball nowhere near Kobe who was there to inbound. He did it again later, as well.

  2. fouldwimmerlaik - Apr 18, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    It is so exciting when Kobe starts his playoff pushing. He should push Gasol hard…I mean REAL hard.

    • fouldwimmerlaik - Apr 19, 2011 at 3:07 AM

      LOL! I must admit, I really laughed on that double entendre.

      On a serious note, I just see this as growing pains for the upcoming Three-peat (Reloaded).

  3. hnirobert3 - Apr 18, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    Don’t take no for an answer, Kobe. Just keep at it and if all else fails, force your way through.

    • simplelogic67 - Apr 18, 2011 at 4:29 PM

      Thats the same attitude that got him in trouble back in 03

  4. loungefly74 - Apr 18, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    game 1 showed Pau needs to be pushed. i’m glad kobe is taking that role again to do that. those guys are buddys. i’m sure gasol understands. that game was embarrassing.

  5. fanoredsox - Apr 18, 2011 at 8:31 PM

    I would love, I mean LOVE to see one of Kobe’s teammates open hand slap him in the face. He might be a winner but he acts like a three year old half of the time. I’m sure if you are a teammate that his act gets old throughout a long season.

    • dabearsbus - Apr 18, 2011 at 8:45 PM

      Acting like a three year old? It’s the same competitive attitude that won Jordan six rings. Being great many times comes hand in hand with being an obnoxious prick on the floor. At the highest level it’s oftentimes the player or players who want to win most who ultimately do. Not necessarily endearing but a fact just the same. Kobe wants to win more than 99 percent of the league. Hence he does.

      • loungefly74 - Apr 19, 2011 at 7:58 AM

        agree…that attitude won them the last 2 rings.

        be very wary of commenters with names like “redsox”, “pats”, etc…they tend to be very biased towards the Lakers plus they are most likely to never watch a Laker’s games. i wonder why?

  6. omniusprime - Apr 19, 2011 at 9:56 AM

    Kobe won’t have to push Pau too much as I’m sure that Pau’s pride will push him to work much harder next game to show some of his potent offense. The Hornets are going to get stung a lot in the paint the next few games and the Lakers will break out their brooms and sweep the Hornets to go fishing in 5 games. Kobe is the greatest basketball player in the world and the Repeat World Champion Lakers will Threepeat this June!

    • dayc12 - Apr 19, 2011 at 11:05 AM

      yeah, i agree with what you are syaing. Kobe won’t push Pau much to work harder next game. Pau is capable of pushing himself to victory.

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