The Los Angeles Lakers won their third game in a row last night by taking down the Charlotte Bobcats at the Staples Center. The Bobcats may have come into the game riding an 11-game losing streak, but this was by no means an easy win for the Lakers as they were down by as much as 18 points during the third quarter and appeared to be headed towards their seventh loss at home this season.
Pau Gasol returned to the floor after missing the last eight games with tendinitis in both knees last night with mixed results. The two-time NBA champion put up decent numbers in his first game back with 10 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four blocks, but went 3-10 from the floor and appeared a bit rusty at times.
With the Lakers struggling against one of the worst teams in the league, and Gasol back on the floor with Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard, the questions continue to linger about whether or not the Spaniard fits in the new system or can even play with Howard on the floor at the same time.
Gasol talked about playing alongside Howard after Tuesday’s win over the Bobcats via Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com:
“I think it’s good that we spend some time together on the court and also apart so I can play a little more center and closer to the basket. But we have to find a balance and the right rotations and timings out there where we can exploit our size when we’re together and also give each other some rest.
“We’re two talented players and we can overpower people. You’re talking about two top big guys in the league, you should take advantage of it.”
Despite Gasol struggling to find his role in the offense with Howard on the floor, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year isn’t finding it difficult to put up solid numbers. Howard finished with 16 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks against the Bobcats. Howard’s averages are slightly down from last season with 18.1 points and 12.2 rebounds per game compared to 20.6 points and 14.5 rebounds with the Orlando Magic, but the superstar center is starting to come around, increasing his numbers across the board and improved free-throw shooting by finally hitting 50.6 percent from the charity stripe.
It remains to be seen whether or not the two dominant bigs can coexist moving forward as the team may ultimately decide to trade Gasol if he’s play doesn’t improve with the return of Steve Nash that might come as soon as this Saturday night against the Golden State Warriors.