The Lakers decimated the Hawks 122-93 in Pau Gasol’s STAPLES Center debut, building an insurmountable 41 point lead at one point during the first half.
“Well we got off to a good start and kept it going the first three quarters, the fourth quarter too probably, but they were just real aggressive tonight, created turnovers, and shot the ball well,” said Coach Phil Jackson. “Not much else to say about that game.”
“We’re playing great,” said Lamar Odom. “We can get better; we could have played better in that third quarter Right now we are confident and we expect to win every game.”
Jackson praised the Lakers’ ability to come out strong after their lengthy nine-game road trip.
“I just thought the start wasn’t good, the first three or four possessions, and then all of the sudden it was like everything seemed to tilt in our direction. A lot of it was will, a lot was just energy, and our purpose. We played with a real purpose there for a while.”
Gasol and Kobe Bryant each had 23 points for the Lakers while Odom had 17 points and a team-high 15 rebounds. In all, six Lakers scored in double figures, including all five starters.
While Gasol has excelled for the Lakers in his first seven games with the team, Jackson said there is still a learning curve for the Spanish forward-center.
“We’re really still very basic right now,” said Jackson.” We’re just doing some real basic things, he picks up almost all of it pretty easily.”
When asked if he was the missing piece to the Lakers’ title aspirations, Gasol said, “I don’t know. I feel like we are in a good streak; we are in a good way and path. We are going to continue to be that way. There’s always a missing piece, and that’s for my teammates to judge and say. I definitely want to help this team get better and accomplish their goals.”
The Lakers’ blowout tonight was especially valuable since the starters were able to rest for most of the second half heading into a back-to-back game against the Pacific Division rival Phoenix Suns tomorrow night.
“We’re looking forward to that game,” Jackson said. “They’re sitting home, rested since the break and have a day of practice or two, so that’s a little different for them but, the series is in the balance, and we’d like to take that, there’s no doubt about it. Also, it would give us a little bit of a boost in the direction we want to go towards winning this division.”