Gasol Runs Like a Deer (not a Bull)
Before Tuesday’s win against the Bulls, Phil Jackson talked about how his team should look to feed Andrew Bynum on the low block, and take advantage of a relatively small Bulls lineup. In fairness, he was asked about Bynum, and not Pau Gasol. Because while Bynum was very effective with 18 points and nine boards and three more blocks, it was Gasol for whom the Bulls had no answer.
The Spaniard knocked down 14-of-21 shots, often from within six feet of the rim, and made 6-of-8 free throws for a game-high 34 points. Kobe Bryant added 21, while Lamar Odom and Jordan Farmar combined for 22 off the bench.
But the thing that stood out most to me, at least, in Gasol’s game was how many easy buckets he earned himself simply by busting his behind up the floor in transition. It was often Bryant (six assists) who rewarded the trailing Gasol with a pass (including two in flashy behind-the-back fashion), but the credit must go to Pau.
After the game in the locker room, I asked Bryant if Gasol got enough credit for his ability to run the floor, and Bryant thought for a second before responding that Gasol might be the “best in the league at doing it.” That’s worthy of a separate article … note to self.
Phil Jackson Postgame
L.A.’s head coach summed the game up by saying that his squad came out in the second half with the kind of energy they needed to win, which showed up in the stat sheet with a 7-0 run. He also noted the Lakers’ nine first half steals and the gameplan to go inside to Bynum and Gasol as keys to the win.
Jackson wasn’t happy with a few of the layups afforded to Derrick Rose, though he was explicitly impressed with Rose’s quickness and basketball acumen.
18: First quarter points for Pau Gasol, who finished the game with 34 points, six boards and three assists.
19: Total of Lamar Odom’s boards (nine), assists (five), steals (three) and blocks (three) in just 22:14 of playing time as Odom fouled out early in the fourth quarter.
25: Points for Derrick Rose, coupled with nine assists. The NBA’s No. 1 pick in 2008 doesn’t look much like a rookie.
27.3: Ben Gordon’s shooting percentage on 6-of-22 from the field, including 3-of-11 from three-point range.
64: Points in the paint by the Lakers, many of which came in transition for a team that forced 22 turnovers (16 steals). Chicago, however, had 60 points in the paint of its own.
80: Percent of the 10 free throws taken by Andrew Bynum that went through the net, en route to his 18 points, nine boards, three blocks, two assists and a block in 30 solid minutes.
1,000: Career rebounds for Bynum, who became the 8th youngest player in NBA history to reach that milestone.