The Lakers have now won three in a row. Their power forward, Pau Gasol, returned for that game and had himself a nice all-around contest with 10 points, nine rebounds, five assists, and four blocks. All is good in Lakerland, right?
Well, not yet. Pau Gasol is still trying to adjust to head coach Mike D’Antoni’s system. Here’s what Gasol had to say via Sam Amick of USA Today:
“I don’t find (playing with Howard) tough,” Gasol said as he stood at the loading dock. “It’s more the system right now that makes it tough at times, because (D’Antoni) wants four guys to be spread and one interior guy and it’s a guard-oriented system, so that makes it tough.
“I think there’s enough looks for both of us. But again, it’s not a system that you post up a lot, so we’ll see. We’ve just got to figure it out, but if you’ve got two great post-up players, you’ve got to utilize it.”
Kobe Bryant also wants his running mate back on the block.
“I don’t think he’s going to have a new role (than previous seasons); he’s not,” said Bryant, who had 30 points, seven assists and six rebounds. “No. We’re going to post him. We’re going to put him at the elbow. He can obviously make plays on the perimeter, and he will because he’s skillful enough to do it, but we’re going to play to his strengths – for sure.
“Like I said, we’re going to post him. Mike knows that. We’ll move him around a lot, because Pau can do a lot…We’re going to post him because that’s what he does best.”
At first, D’Antoni didn’t seem too thrilled about the aspect.
“It’s Pau who has to expand his game, and he’ll expand out in the corner threes and he needs to take a couple, and we’ll get him in the post when we can,” D’Antoni said, emphasizing those last three words as if to pound the point that he’s making no promises to Pau. “But if we can’t, we’ll just get him relaxed and then everything will be good…Just try to figure out how we’re going to win, how we’re going to co-exist.”
Then D’Antoni backed off a little bit, saying that it’s ultimately about winning.
“It’s not difficult (to compromise) because the ultimate thing is to win,” he said. “I’m not going to compromise and then lose. That’s what kind of happened a little bit before (earlier this season), and I’m not going to do that. But every coach is going to try to find what’s best for each player individually, and try to incorporate. You still do the same things, and just tweak it. It doesn’t have to change the whole thing – I would hope.”
It’s still early so they have a bit of time. But they don’t really have much time because it’s championship or bust this season for the Lakers. The Heat were afforded the time when Dwyane Wade and LeBron James had to adjust with each other’s style; they ended up winning the title in their second season together. This year, the Rockets have two ball-dominant players in James Harden and Jeremy Lin. They’re still trying to adjust to each other but these young guys have time to figure it out. But when they figure it out, like they did against New York, they will be just fine.
At some point, they’ll have a compromise. D’Antoni may be stubborn about it, sometimes, but he’ll have to adjust to give way for Pau. Pau also has to give a little bit, too, especially with Dwight Howard there (who needs to be kept happy as he is a free agent next season). It’ll take a little bit of time and it’s not like these guys are basketball dummies.
Also, Steve Nash still hasn’t played for D’Antoni in L.A. yet. If anyone knows how to utilize Pau, it would be Nash. Nash has made it known that one of the reasons why he went to L.A. was because of a chance to play with Gasol.
The Lakers play against Golden State on Saturday. Nash is hoping to be back for that contest.