Posts tagged Pau Gasol
Not too much was made of the Lakers’ 0-8 preseason record, for the very reason that the games meant nothing. But after Tuesday’s season-opening embarrassing loss 99-91 to the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center, one has to wonder if maybe there isn’t more to worry about.
Once again on Tuesday the Lakers struggled to find any consistency offensively or defensively, looking very much like a team that hasn’t played together long. After leading early in the second quarter 33-25, they did little right after that, as the injury-depleted Mavericks rallied and took a 48-46 lead into halftime after strong play from their bench. For the game, Dallas’ bench outscored the Lakers’ 37-17.
In the second half, things didn’t go much better, as the Lakers found themselves down by as many as 15 points several times, and they never made much of a run at any point. The final score and stats really aren’t indicative of how poorly they played, except for the pathetic 12-31 (38.7%) from the free throw line, which included a 3-14 night from Dwight Howard, making his Laker regular season debut.
One of the few bright spots for the Lakers was the play of Pau Gasol who led all players with 23 points to go along with 13 rebounds and six assists. Kobe Bryant, who didn’t practice all week due to a strained foot, played, and hit 11-14 from the floor en route to 22 points. Dwight Howard did score 19 to go along with 10 rebounds, but struggled all night to get into the flow of the game, and eventually fouled out with about two minutes left.
Dallas didn’t have anyone dominate the game, but got solid performances from several players, and had six players in double figures. Newcomer Darren Collison led Dallas with 17 points on 8-12 from the field. Brandan Wright, starting for the injured Chris Kaman, scored 14 on 5-5 from the floor. O.J. Mayo had 12, and Shawn Marion had 11 points and nine rebounds. Remember the Mavericks are also playing without All-Star forward Dirk Nowitsky.
The Lakers did manage to shoot 49.4% from the floor, but were a miserable 3-13 (23.1%) from beyond the arc, with Steve Nash, also making his Laker debut, hitting just 1-4 from distance. They did cut down on the turnovers that plagued the team in the preseason, as they committed only 14 miscues. They did also outrebound Dallas 46-40.
The Lakers will try to bounce back tomorrow in an arena they always struggle at, the Rose Garden in Portland, when they take on the Trail Blazers in the second game of a back-to-back.
While the season definitely didn’t end the way the Lakers or its fans expected, with a stunning Conference Semi-Finals sweep at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks, several Lakers did win some NBA postseason league awards that are worth noting.
Sixth Man of the Year - Lamar Odom (1st)
First Team All-NBA – Kobe Bryant (9th, 6th straight season)
First Team All-NBA Defense – Kobe Bryant (9th, 6th straight season)
Second Team All-NBA – Pau Gasol (1st)
J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award – Ron Artest (1st)
For the first 24 minutes of Friday night’s game in Utah, it seemed like the Lakers were destined to give back the game they gained from Thursday’s nights hard-fought victory against Dallas.
But these Lakers are just playing at a whole other level. The champs rallied from 17 points down, overwhelming the undermanned Utah Jazz in the second half, and scored a 96-85 at EnergySolutions Arena, their ninth straight win, and 17th in the last 18 games.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 21 points and Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol each had 16. Gasol also added a team-high nine rebounds in the win.
Utah jumped on the Lakers early, led 26-13 in the first quarter, and then put together an 11-0 run in the second quarter to build a 41-24 lead. But that’s when the tide began to shift. Los Angeles fought back with an 18-7 run to close the half, and trailed just 48-42 at the break.
The second half was all Lakers, as Derek Fisher’s three-pointer finally got the Lakers even at 62 with just over four minutes left in the third quarter. Moments later they took the lead for good when Kyrylo Fesenko was called for goaltending on a Shannon Brown shot. The Lakers led 71-64 after three.
The lead stretched to 83-65 early in the fourth, and the Lakers held off the Jazz the rest of the way for what turned out to be a fairly easy victory. Los Angeles outscored Utah 52-35 in the second half.
Utah played without three of their key players, as Andrei Kirilenko, Devin Harris, and Raja Bell all missed the game with injuries. The Lakers played without Matt Barnes, who was suspended by the NBA for his role in Thursday night’s melee with Dallas.
C.J. Miles, who had been in a shooting slump, scored 13 points in the first half for the Jazz, and finished with a game-high 24. Al Jefferson added 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Paul Milsap chipped in with 16 points.
The Lakers shot just 39.4% from the field in the first half, but finished the game at 47.9% (34-71). They also held the Jazz to 41.5% (34-82) from the floor, and 2-10 (20.0%) from the three-point line. The Jazz did outrebound the Lakers 44-39, including 15-6 on the offensive end, but held a much bigger advantage (28-18) at the end of the first half.
The win, combined with San Antonio’s sixth straight loss at Houston on Friday, brought the Lakers to within 1.5 games for first place in the Western Conference, with seven remaining. The Lakers’ current 17-1 record is the highest post-All-Star break winning percentage (.944) in league history. The Jazz are second, going 31-4 (.885) after the All-Star break back in 1997.
The loss eliminated Utah from the Western Conference playoff race, marking the first time a team started 15-5 and 27-13 and didn’t make the playoffs.
The Lakers now return home for a Sunday afternoon battle at Staples Center against the new-look Denver Nuggets, who have been playing very well since trading their superstar forward Carmelo Anthony last month. The two teams have split their two meetings this year, with the Lakers winning the last game 107-97 in Denver back on January 21.
Link: Lakers @ Jazz Box Score