Pau Gasol returned Tuesday night and helped the Lakers squeak out a close victory over the Charlotte Bobcats, 101-100. They have now won three in a row. So all signs are good in Lakerland, right?
Not so fast. According to Sam Amick of USA Today, there are still lingering problems in the system. Here’s what Gasol had to say.
“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.”
Pau is right. And Kobe Bryant wants Pau 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.”
Mike D’Antoni seemed a little stubborn about it, at first.
“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.”
But D’Antoni ultimately said it’s about winning, not the system.
But if he’s not good in this system, will D’Antoni make the necessary changes?
“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.”
The way I look at it is this: it’s still only December.
It takes some time for teams to get it going. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James were said to be a bad fit together but in their second season as teammates, the Heat won the championship. This is what the Rockets have to deal with with young guns James Harden and Jeremy Lin. They’re both ball-dominant and have had trouble meshing but if you saw the game against the Knicks, they worked beautifully together.
The only problem here with the Lakers is that they don’t have as much time as the teams mentioned. However, it’s not like these guys can’t adjust; these are all basketball minds. It’s not like Gasol looked completely lost last night, either; he stuffed the stat sheet in the first quarter. It’ll still take some time but it’s not like he can’t find other ways to be effective.
Don’t forget that Steve Nash still hasn’t played under the new D’Antoni Laker regime. Nash has made it no secret that he wanted to play with Pau. We’re looking forward to how Nash himself utilizes Gasol. And if there’s anybody that can make it work, it’s the two-time MVP Steve Nash.
I know it’s not popular around these parts but we have to continue to be patient with this team. But while they’re adjusting, hope that they keep winning. Because when it all comes down to it, it’s all about winning.
The Lakers don’t play until Saturday when they go on the road against the Golden State Warriors. By then, Steve Nash might be back.