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Lakers-Thunder Game 4: The scapegoating of Pau Gasol

May 20, 2012, 4:18 PM EDT


Someone has to go down for this. It might as well be Pau Gasol, I suppose. Because it sure isn’t going to be Kobe Bryant.

When the Lakers lost to the Thunder Saturday night, blowing a nine-point fourth quarter lead to do down 3-1 in their Western Conference Semifinals series with OKC, it was Kevin Durant‘s coming of age. It was also the equivalent of an economic breakdown for the government. The populace is angry. They demand retribution, a cause, a villain.

Pau Gasol fits that model nicely.

It was Gasol who did this in Game 4:

The Lakers blew a nine-point lead in the fourth. They couldn’t contain Kevin Durant. They couldn’t stop Russell Westbrook. And Kobe Bryant struggled against Durant’s defense. And yet…

That could pretty much be all for Gasol in Los Angeles. From the Orange County Register:

Bryant has tired to having to prop Gasol up time and again. Bryant did it often last season in pursuit of a third consecutive title on a bad knee and before Bynum was ready, offering the compelling Natalie Portman-inspired narrative that Gasol is too often the “white swan” instead of the “black swan.” Like the movie, it didn’t end well.

This season, Bryant has still believed that Gasol can come through when it matters most. Bryant’s public request that the Lakers stop dangling Gasol in the trade market was him believing Gasol needed that support to persevere. When I was comparing the very night before the March trade deadline the emerging Bynum and Bryant to the regular one-two punch of Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant, it was Bryant who digressed to say: “We still have Pau.”

Even though Gasol has been loyal and tried to stay invested in the Lakers after the aborted preseason trade for Chris Paul, it hasn’t been the same. And effective or not, no matter how much unwavering respect he has for Bryant, Gasol has also developed his own pocket of resentment for all of Kobe’s high horsing, fire breathing and string pulling in recent years.

via Kobe and Pau: It must be the end of their era | gasol, bryant, game – Sports – The Orange County Register.

Gasol absolutely vanished in the Lakers’ four-game sweep against Dallas last year, presumably because of personal problems. No such excuse this year. Gasol had just 10 points on 10 shots and five rebounds. That cannot happen in a game where the Lakers made a concerted effort to get the ball to their bigs and slow the game down. Gasol can shoot over Serge Ibaka all day, but for whatever reason, simply faded away.

Gasol was almost shipped out before the season in the CP3 trade and was relieved to get to stay. He was almost moved at the deadline, and again, was relieved to stay. But you have to think the Lakers, should they fail to come back from down 3-1, will move on and try and find Bryant a new partner in crime. It should be noted that Bryant, although brilliant for three quarters in Game 4, was 1-7 in the last five minutes. But Bryant will not be the scapegoat. It will be Gasol, it may be Mike Brown. If the Lakers can’t come back, it’s unlikely that the Lakers look anything like they did this year. And they look nothing this year like they did last.

  1. shockexchange - May 20, 2012 at 4:27 PM

    “The wheels of the bus go round and round … round and round … round and round.” If I were Pau or Bynum this would be the last time Robert Horry, Jr. or the Lakers threw me under the bus. I would be ghost as soon as my contract expired … Horry, Jr. wants all the glory? Let him do all the work too.

    • uscthom78 - May 20, 2012 at 5:39 PM

      Yup make him go 1 on 5….lol

  2. sweetnlow44 - May 20, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    It was a collected choke job by the Lakers again in the last 2 minutes. Kobe went ice cold and took bad shots and should own up to that, but he carried them for 3 quarters last night. Pau’s been playing like he needs to go change his tampon all series. If he can’t get up to playing all out in the playoffs, he needs to be on the bench and give his minutes to Jordan Hill. Pau’s an emotional softy and his lack of effort is hurting the Lakers bad.

    • sweetnlow44 - May 20, 2012 at 4:46 PM


  3. gopokes0714 - May 20, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    it’s simple. Lakers expect it, Thunder WANT it.

    It is not the size of the dog in the fight, its the size of the fight in the dog.

    In this case the Thunder have more fight, and are the bigger dog.

  4. uscthom78 - May 20, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    Whether its on the court or off the court, he never takes personal responsibility. Just blame others. You can call it “blame the victim” rants. What a major douchebag. You can ask Shaq and Vanessa about his douchebaggery.

  5. david8726 - May 20, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    I’d love it if Gasol left the Lakers and then had immediate success with a new team just to spite them.

    No one ever appreciates you until you’re gone. When Bynum has yet another injury in the future and Kobe is left without a decent big man, he’ll look back fondly at Gasol and the two titles he won with him.

    • chuckj1234 - May 21, 2012 at 12:53 AM

      Yeah. Just two years ago everyone was singing praise for Gasol. Now he is the scape goat. It is dificult to find a seven footer that is that agile.

  6. uscthom78 - May 20, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    I can’t imagine how the Diabloenos here will react when the team loses. The will probably go downtown and riot as usual. This will be 1000x worse than VAN2011.

  7. isujames - May 20, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    F#%! the lakers!!

  8. isujames - May 20, 2012 at 8:25 PM

    One more loss and this OVERATED team will be broken up before the start of next year.

  9. progress2011 - May 21, 2012 at 12:34 AM

    kobe (aka Curly Neal) is not and has never been a leader. No legitimate leader ever points fingers…publicly anyway.

    Faker fans and kobe are so upset with Pau’s play, I’m positive many other teams will welcome him with open arms, get him all the touches he wants and never make him a scapegoat. To name a few

    1. Miami- LBJ will make sure he get 20 a night
    2. Chicago- Rose will get him the ball in easy scoring positions
    3. Clippers- CP3 will get him at the rim, he would easily average 20 pts a night

    So, the 50 Faker fans (that hawk this site) should write the Buss family and make sure they trade Gasol, Tuesday when the Fakers are eliminated.

    • loungefly74 - May 21, 2012 at 1:35 PM

      progress2011 (AKA idiot who knows nothing about sports), so…who are miami, chicago, or the clippers going to give up to get gasol? think progress…oh, you don’t don’t. and why do you care about those teams? i thought you liked the “underdog” as you said so? shouldn’t you be rooting for the bucks, kings, ot raptors to get gasol? yeah, you are a fool…a classic hater.

  10. fotydaze - May 21, 2012 at 2:16 AM

    The lakers imposed their will up until the end when instead of playing to win they played not to lose, blame Pau or not he should of attacked the basket instead of kicking the ball out

  11. rosesacl - May 21, 2012 at 6:14 AM

    What happened to Pao? It looks like he gave up last year and never really turned it around…. can’t figure it out….

  12. omniusprime - May 21, 2012 at 8:50 AM

    Blame Clown Coach Mike Brown for the game 4 loss because he failed once again to coach the team to victory in the final minutes. Brown’s No Clue Offense is what has hurt the Lakers, just give the ball to Kobe and let him do it all himself. Plus where was Clown Brown’s defense at? Sorry the Lakers suffer from a coach who has no clue as to motivation or preparation. This will probably be the end of the Laker’s season tonight because we have a pathetic natural born loser for a coach. Go Pau!!! Go Kobe!!!! Go Lakers!!!!

  13. skids003 - May 21, 2012 at 9:01 AM

    Magic and Jon Barry said its the coaches fault . They have him 28 feet from the basket setting picks for the great Kobe. How can he be effective out there. But the have to blame the white guy, right?

    • lunasceiling - May 21, 2012 at 9:30 AM

      Yep, I saw those comments too, and I think Magic and JB hit the nail in the head. Pau has made some mistakes, but the main reason for his ineffectiveness is Brown using him wrong. When he gets the ball. it’s usually at 18-20 feet…not down in the paint. In Phil Jackson’s offense, Gasol was being utilized properly, and his numbers (and the team’s record) reflected that.

      • sydneysachs - May 21, 2012 at 1:52 PM

        So interesting how everyone defending Pau here (and I love him as a person) has conveniently forgotten the absolute meltdown he had against Dallas last year… awful and confounding enough that Phil literally pounded on him to try to get him going. All to no avail. As much as I hate to say it, Pau is apparently what all his detractors have claimed for years—soft, as in lacking courage and even, often, motivation.

        Agreed… Kobe went about this the wrong way. But he shouldn’t have to repeatedly call out Pau to get him fired up, and so he gets frustrated. As for being a ballhog, what exactly is he supposed to do when his teammates are standing around, and Bynum is completely blanketed by Perkins?

  14. allball23 - May 21, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    Kobe look in the mirror before you start pointing fingers. You had a terrible 4th quarter you are part of the problem also bruh.

    • mightyquinn69 - May 21, 2012 at 10:55 AM

      I agree with you to some degree, but if Pau would have been more agressive, he would not have had to take some of those shots. Like he said. Bynum was being fronted, as well as doubled. Pau has to make a play. Be agressive forcing them to come off of Bynum, and then making them pay. He’s has a one on one situation. he has to take advantage of that. Plan and simple!

  15. mightyquinn69 - May 21, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    I’m gonna say this and some may not agree, but Kobe is absolutely correct. Take it, I don’t like some of the shots they he took, but atleast he was agressive in what he did. He is, who he is! MWP was also agressive, he is not afraid of the moment. MWP took some big shots when others were afraid to. Pau, in that pick in roll play, was 7-9ft from the basket, and he was not agressive. He was hasitant/passive, and decided to throw a soft cross court pass towards the 3pt line, that was very easy to pick off. Are you kidding me? That’s an easy play. Set the screan for Kobe, when he get doubled, you roll out for an easy shot. He had an easy 7-9ft shot. Kobe didn’t pass him the ball, just for him to make a dumb cross court pass. He passed him the ball to take the easy shot! I can’t argue with a player who plays hard, and agressive, but when you are passive against and agressive team like the Thunder, you are gonna get dogged! Yes, Kobe was 2 for 10, but if Pau was agressive he wouldn’t have had to take some of those shots. Kobe can see sense when you are geing passive/ afraid of the moment, and when Bynum was being taken away Pau has to be more agressive. The Thunder knows this, and played to his weekness. If he would just make an agressive move towards the basket, they would have to send help, therefore freeing up Bynum for an easy basket. Just look ate the play, and you can see that for yourselves. Pau played right in to what the Thunder was doing.They can see that he was being passive and therefore used it against him. Period!

  16. bloyaglock - May 21, 2012 at 10:54 AM



  17. bloyaglock - May 21, 2012 at 10:58 AM


  18. chargerdillon - May 21, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    How can anybody put game 4 on Kobe. People talk about the Lakers with the “big 3″….. WHAT BIG 3? Pau Gasol and Bynum disappear in the playoffs completely.

    Pau passes into a turnover a wide open shot? Would Durant do that? Would Westbrook do that? NO BECAUSE IF THEY DONT PULL THE TRIGGER THE THUNDER LOSES!

    In full knee-jerk like fashion I want Pau gone from the Lakers and Bynum too. I would send both of them to Orlando right now for Dwight. Bynum is a regular season superstar and Pau Gasol is in the shadow of Kobe afraid to score 20-30 a night like he did in his first 2 years with the Lakers.

    Maybe Pau isnt the same offensive player because of Mike Browns style, but whatever Pau’s style is, it’s not an all star, it’s not a superstar, it’s a bench player. Jordan Hill is giving me better work than Pau Gasol is at this point.

    Pau….Andrew… have to be more than just 7ft tall, you have to play too

  19. ddaughtry81 - May 21, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    Let’s be real. Pau has to shoot that.

  20. greggatx - May 21, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    It’s not the Lakers fault that the Thunder are a better team. I also think the Thunder are a better team than the Spurs. Should be a good series between the Thunder and Spurs. GO THUNDER! ATX

  21. fotydaze - May 21, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    The fact that is even a discussion shows the problems in laker land are tremendous, the job of coaching this team is too big for brown, he’s better suited for milwaukee or somewhere, Kobe continues to make more and more miscues, bynum is an overrated cry baby, sessions isn’t being used properly or enough, he’s the only one that can penetrate and dish the ball freeing up others, but we put in blake at the end of games who can’t guard anyone and misses jumpers. Gasol punked out at the critical end of that game, but the laker problems are much bigger!!!

  22. mogogo1 - May 21, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    Gasol is a veteran, has played extremely well in the past, won championships… When guys like that looks totally lost on the floor, the first place to look is the coaching. Phil Jackson ran a lot of offense through Gasol, but that doesn’t happen any more. But Gasol is just one symptom of a bigger problem: With Bynum’s size and shooting percentage, he ought to be getting the ball fed to him until the D proves they can stop it and that isn’t happening, either.

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