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The Extra Pass: Pau Gasol talks slow start to season, plus Sunday recaps

Nov 11, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

Utah Jazz v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

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LOS ANGELES — In the first quarter Sunday night against Minnesota (as his Lakers were getting blown out of the water), Pau Gasol was 3-of-5 shooting for six points.

The rest of the game he was 2-of-7 shooting, and the second of those buckets came :26 seconds left in the game when Rick Adelman had emptied the Timberwolves bench. Gasol finished with 11 points on 12 shots (but did have 11 rebounds).

That’s been pretty typical to start the season. Gasol was expected to carry the Lakers’ offense, at least until Kobe Bryant returned, but he is averaging 15.3 points a game on 36 percent shooting — it’s taking him 16.1 shots a game to get those points.

That is not Gasol like. It’s not close to what the Lakers were banking on.

What’s more is on the season he’s shooting a respectable 45 percent in the first quarter but just 25.7 percent in the second half.

Gasol said after the game the issue has been a respiratory infection he has battled all season — and that he is getting better.

“I’m getting there, I’m not 100 percent,” Gasol said. “Unfortunately I had to go through two weeks of the respiratory infection that has been killing me. But now I feel better, I’m finally feel like I’m over it. I was able to push myself better and felt better tonight, so I look forward to continue to build on that and get closer to that 100 percent…

“I was getting fatigued really quickly and I can get my wind and conditioning better, and tonight I felt better so that’s a positive sign for the future…

“The minutes that I play I want to feel well, I want to feel strong, I want to feel explosive and not getting tired after five minutes and that’s the way it’s been going to the last two weeks or so with this infection.”

The Lakers need that — especially is Steve Nash is going to be out for any length of time.

“I think he will come back into shape, we just have to be a little patient,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said after the game. “I think he’s getting a little frustrated, too.”

The Lakers lack guys who can create shots for others — it’s not what Steve Blake does best. Or Nick Young. Or Wesley Johnson. Or Chris Kaman. I could go on, but you get the idea. Gasol, with his ability to both beat guys in the post and pass out of it to cutters was supposed to help get more shots for others in the D’Antoni system. But he has not physically been up to the task.

Gasol had surgery this summer to clean up both his knees, has logged 13-seasons worth of miles on his body and is age 33 now. How much of his slow start is due to the respiratory infection and how much is just do to Father Time starting to win the race remains to be seen.

But if the Lakers seriously harbor playoff dreams, they need the old Gasol back. And fast.

—Kurt Helin

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From the guy sitting next to me watching the Lakers get destroyed by the Timberwolves Sunday night:

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Spurs 120, Knicks 89: This was a loss Carmelo Anthony admitted to being embarrassed about afterward, and with good reason. San Antonio pounced from the very start, and led by as many as 37 points before the final buzzer sounded. J.R. Smith made his season debut after serving a five-game league mandated suspension, but looked as though he hadn’t played in months, going 1-of-nine from the field with the misses including more than one airball and largely appearing to be not even close. With the victory, San Antonio improved to 6-1 on the season.

Thunder 106, Wizards 105 (OT): The Wizards were in this one to the very end of both regulation and the overtime session, but in the end it was too much Kevin Durant. KD finished with 33 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in the winning effort, while Bradley Beal was huge for the Wizards pouring in 34 points of his own — however he missed the chance to win the game in regulation. Russell Westbrook and Nene were both ejected after getting into a shoving match late in the fourth quarter.

Suns 101, Pelicans 94: Phoenix put together some key shots to turn a one-point lead into 10 in the game’s final four minutes to beat the Pelicans for the second time and improve to 5-2 on the season. Goran Dragic returned from an ankle injury, but contributed off the bench instead of from his normal position in the starting lineup. Gerald Green remained productive in that role, and hit some big shots down the stretch. Eric Bledsoe hit the dagger three-pointer to seal it for the second straight game, and Markieff Morris continued his dominance as part of the reserve unit with 23 points. Morris is shooting 78.9percent from the field over his last three games.

Timberwolves 113, Lakers 90: The score may actually make this game seem closer than it was. Minnesota put up 47 points in the first quarter (just a made three away from tying the NBA record) on  76.2 percent shooting plus they hit 7-of-9 from three. Kevin Love had 18 points and hit 4-of-5 shots in the first quarter. Kevin Martin had 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting in the first quarter. Minnesota went on a 27-2 run that quarter, were up 24 at the end of it. They were never seriously threatened (the Lakers got it to 14 at one point, then fell apart again). This was a perfect storm of great Minnesota shooting and terrible Lakers defense. Ricky Rubio finished with a triple double of 12 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds.  —Kurt Helin

  1. mimaiheatdynasty - Nov 11, 2013 at 8:10 AM

    didn’t know Bradley Beal was that good.

  2. unfrozencavemanlawyer2 - Nov 11, 2013 at 8:52 AM

    Lakers are toast. I wonder how Kobe will handle playing for a lottery team.

    • kb2408 - Nov 11, 2013 at 9:36 AM

      Kobe will be fine. After all, it’s not like he doesn’t realize the LAKERS are not good this season.

    • stoutfiles - Nov 11, 2013 at 11:19 AM

      Kobe is loving it. He can say “look how bad they are without me, that’s how great I am”. If they’re still losing when he returns, well, that’s a different story.

      • kb2408 - Nov 11, 2013 at 11:57 AM

        Man, some of you guys are just dense. Do you really think Kobe looks at the LAKERS roster and thinks championship? He’s one of the smartest, most straightforward players in the league. Kobe realizes that this year is basically a throw away season. The off-season and next season is when Kobe might become frustrated with the team. He knows he only has a couple years left and I don’t believe he wants to spend them not competing for a title. But when Dwight signed with Houston the franchise and Kobe knew what was in store for this season.

      • therealhtj - Nov 11, 2013 at 1:38 PM

        You mean the same Kobe who thought demanding a contract that eats up over half the cap would still leave his team in championship contention? Or the Kobe who thought playing 40+ minutes a night at his age and mileage wouldn’t have consequences? Or the Kobe who has now twice run off the most dominant big man in the game? That’s the Kobe you think is so smart and straightforward?

        And please stop writing Lakers in all caps. You keep reminding rational Lakers fans why the rest of the NBA fanbase can’t stand us.

      • asimonetti88 - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:22 PM

        “You mean the same Kobe who thought demanding a contract that eats up over half the cap would still leave his team in championship contention?”

        Kobe signed his current contract prior to the current CBA.

      • skids003 - Nov 11, 2013 at 3:47 PM

        Oh, the Great One will come back later in the season and lead this team to the Promised Land, he’s just laying out to give the rest of the teams a chance.

  3. Sideline Mob - Nov 11, 2013 at 9:03 AM

    That picture of Pau Gasol makes it look like he’s missing half his right arm.

    • dluxxx - Nov 11, 2013 at 1:22 PM

      He might as well be…

      • Sideline Mob - Nov 11, 2013 at 4:47 PM

        Touche.

  4. texmex2 - Nov 11, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    Want more out of Gasol, GET rid of D’antone, stupid man has him playing out of position for two years. now. What’s next a PG playing Center.

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