Monthly Archive for March, 2011

Lakers 110, Mavs 82: March 31 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Thursday evening home contest against the Dallas Mavericks, the Lakers looking for their eighth straight win, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Mavericks: J. Kidd, R. Beaubois, S. Marion, D. Nowitzki, T. Chandler

8:33 Jason Kidd’s second three in the early minutes put Dallas up 10-6, but the more interesting element in the game from a tactical standpoint was Dallas guarding Bryant with the 6-2 Rodrigue Beaubois, who starts for his offense alongside Kidd. Last time these teams met, Shawn Marion spent a lot of time on Bryant, and Ron Artest punished Jason Kidd, but with Beaubois on him, Bryant took four shots in four minutes, hitting two.

5:12 At the first extended time out, both teams were hot offensively, shooting identical 8-of-14 lines (57 percent) in an 18-17 lead for the Mavs thanks to an extra three-pointer. Bryant and Gasol had six points apiece for L.A., while both Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki had the same amount for Dallas. The Mavs, who beat the Clippers 106-100 in the same building on the previous night, looked sharp, while the Lakers, off since Sunday, were there on offense but not yet on D.

2:38 Mavs owner Mark Cuban had made some comments about wanting Ron Artest to make decisions and shoot the ball, but Artest had the last laugh in the first quarter by assisting on five of his team’s 11 field goals. Meanwhile, Bynum punished the smaller Tyson Chandler in the paint with consecutive hoops, this after Phil Jackson had commented on Chandler not being able to handle Bynum’s strength after L.A.’s March 12 win at Dallas. L.A. would take a 28-26 lead out of the period.

9:18 A solid defensive effort from subs Matt Barnes, Steve Blake and Shannon Brown, all flying around the perimeter, helped hold Dallas to just two points in the first three minutes while Barnes and Bynum had back-to-back hammer dunks at the other end to bring Bryant, Fisher and Co. out of their seats. Bynum and Gasol were a combined 8-for-11 at that point, the length getting to Dallas once again.

6:00 L.A. controlled the first half of the quarter until Dallas had a quick hot streak on offense, getting six points from J.J. Barea and two triples from Peja Stojakovic, the first of which banked in off glass despite being launched from the baseline, to turn a 37-32 deficit into a 40-38 lead.

2:49 But back came the Lakers, inspired by Ron Artest, going on a 7-0 run to take a six-point lead on Gasol’s and-1. Artest sank a long two and came up with a steal, continuing to play inspired ball against a team he felt slighted him in that March 12 game by defending him with Kidd. A Bryant three pushed the lead to seven, though Dallas trimmed off four points to get within three at 54-51 at the break. Two related stats: Dallas out-rebounded L.A. 25-18, but seven second quarter steals (after none in the first quarter) for the Lakers allowed the Mavs more defensive board opportunities.

10:26 With Artest’s third three and two Gasol free throws, L.A. opened its biggest lead at 60-52. The triple came courtesy of Bryant’s four assist, a passing lane opening up when the Mavs had to collapse to help Beaubois on Kobe. Moments later, the margin reached double digits for the first time on a Gasol tip-in of Bryant’s miss.

4:36 A Kidd strip of Bryant was just the fifth turnover of the game for the home team. But after Dirk’s tough J over Odom, Bryant responded with a difficult baseline jumper, plus a foul on the swiping-at-the-ball Kidd, to put the Lakers back up by 10. Generally speaking, L.A. had controlled the game since early in the second quarter.

0:00 A great close to the third was keyed by Odom, who nailed a corner three to make it 82-70, a lead preserved on the other end by Bynum’s swat in the lane. Odom had outplayed fellow Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jason Terry, going for seven points, seven boards and two assists to five points, three dimes and a board for Terry … who had played 10 more minutes than Odom (25 to 15).

11:20 Did we mention Lamar Odom had been big in the third? Well, he opened the fourth by sinking back-to-back three-pointers, scoring nine points all on triples in a minute’s time to suddenly put the Lakers up 18 points at 88-70.

9:23 And then things got completely insane. It all started when Terry unnecessarily shoved Blake out of bounds. Blake, who never backs down to anyone, let alone a guard (he usually scraps with centers) got right up and into Terry’s face. Enter Barnes, who came in trying to support Blake, who then pushed Terry. Enter Brendan Haywood, who then shoved Barnes. It was about to end until a Mavs assistant coach (Terry Stotts) grabbed Barnes, trying to get him away, and Barnes took exception before shaking Stotts off him. Stotts fell into a fan courtside … just craziness. Eventually, it all ended, with all four players being ejected and Terry hit with a flagrant two foul. The Mavs picked Theo Ratliff to shoot the free throws since Blake was out, the same player activated only because Derrick Caracter was sent to the D-League and wasn’t going to see any action, and he missed both. THEN, Dallas went on a 5-0 run to cut L.A.’s lead to 12. And now my fingers are tired.

5:55 The lead was soon back at 20, however. Kobe led the charge, reaching 27 points with six straight, and moments later the insane six minutes of action got a bow on top as Artest scored with one hand through Peja Stojakovic (you know how he does it while sealing space for an offensive board), then kissed his bicep. Naturally.

0:00 It was all over at that point. Odom got a standing O when checking out with 16 points and 10 boards in his 23 outstanding minutes, and three minutes later the game was over, L.A. taking a 110-82 victory to win the season series with Dallas 2-1. Your numbers:

2.5 Games behind the Spurs for first in the Western Conference after L.A.’s 16th win to just one loss since the All-Star break. The Spurs have lost five games in a row. The two teams play on April 12. Meanwhile, L.A. (54-20) improved to two losses ahead of Dallas (53-22) in the loss column.

3 Three-pointers nailed by Lamar Odom in a one-minute area around the end of the third and start of the fourth quarters, turning a nine-point lead into an 18-point blow out. Odom was terrific all night, going for 16 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. His main opposition to Sixth Man of the Year honors, Jason Terry, had only five points and three assists on 2-of-9 shooting before being ejected in the fourth quarter…

5 … And Terry was just one of five players to get tossed. See the Running Diary for a description of some fourth quarter shenanigans, but it all started when Terry unnecessarily shoved Steve Blake down from behind.

11 Free throws made by Kobe Bryant en route to a game-high 28 points, plus five boards and four assists in 37 minutes.

27.5 Shooting percentage for the Mavs in the second half, L.A. stepping up its defense in a big way.

Defending the Three-Pointer

The Lakers have been among the NBA’s best in three-point defense over the past few seasons, as Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated delves into on’s Point Forward blog:

You can see the impact of (the Lakers’) size in something that is unusual among the league’s best defenses: They allow opponents to shoot a ton of three-pointers. As the three has become more accepted as a crucial scoring weapon, limiting three-point attempts has turned into one of the bedrock principles of top-level defenses in Boston, Chicago, Orlando and San Antonio — and to a lesser extent in Philadelphia and Milwaukee. Not so with the Lakers. Only the Timberwolves have allowed more three-point attempts, but opponents just can’t knock them down against L.A.; the Lakers rank second, behind only Chicago, in three-point defense, and they also led the league in that category last season. This rare double comes from the fact that the Lakers smartly tilt their defense away from so-so perimeter shooters, and it suggests opponents take threes out of weakness — an inability to deal with L.A.’s interior defense — rather than opportunism.

After Tuesday’s practice, I asked Kobe Bryant for his explanation of what’s been so good about L.A.’s three-point D.

“We don’t allow guys to take rhythm shots, particularly at the three-point line,” he said. “We do a good job of running them off those shots or rushing them into those shots. We don’t want anybody just squatting and having a good look at it.

“We force them to take tough shots inside the paint with our bigs, Pau (Gasol) and ‘Drew (Bynum), and then when they take long two’s and contested threes, just make sure our hands are up in their face and they’re taking rushed opportunities.”

With Gasol and Bynum inside, plus Derek Fisher and Ron Artest (and usually Bryant) consistently closing down on shooters on the outside, this technique can work particularly well against teams like San Antonio and Dallas that shoot the three both often and well.

The Spurs rank first in the league at 39.9 percent from distance, while the Mavs come in seventh at 37.0 percent. Only the Knicks, Rockets, Suns and Magic take more threes than Dallas (21.35), while San Antonio’s 20.99 attempts ranks seventh after the Warriors and aforementioned squads. Meanwhile, the Lakers hold opponents to the second lowest three-point percentage in the league (33.6 percent), behind only Chicago (32.7 percent).

In three games against L.A., the Spurs have hit 31.7 percent of their triples. The Mavs and Lakers have played twice, with Dallas nailing 12-of-26 threes in a 109-100 win in January in what was a major differentiating factor in the game, L.A. uncharacteristically failing to close out on shooters. But L.A. made the adjustment in their March 12 game, holding the Mavs to 4-of-16 triples in a 96-91 win.

We’ll see how Dirk and Co. shoot the triple on Thursday in the third and final meeting between the two squads.

Kobe Bryant: The Longest Tenured Laker

With L.A.’s win over New Orleans on March 27, Kobe Bryant became the longest tenured player in Lakers history.

Bryant has now appeared in 1,094 games for the Purple and Gold in his 15 seasons dating back to 1996-97, surpassing the 1,093 games played by NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Bryant also holds the franchise mark for most games played in the postseason (198).

In his storied NBA career, Bryant has averaged 25.3 points per game to climb all the way up to 6th on the league’s all-time scoring chart. He’s also contributed 5.3 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.5 steals while winning five championships and two Finals MVP awards, plus being named to All-NBA teams in 12 straight seasons, All-Defensive teams 10 times, and an All-Star starter 13 straight times with a record-tying four All-Star MVP’s.

Bryant is 32 years old.

Bryant Earns 26th P.O.W. Award

For the 26th time, Kobe Bryant was named the Western Conference Player of the Week for his performance in L.A.’s 3-0 week of March 21 to 27.

He was named Player of the Week three times last season (11/22/09, 12/20/09 and 12/27/09), and this is the first honor of the 2010-11 season, which comes at the conclusion of a 15-1 Lakers spurt out of the All-Star tunnel.

In the three wins against Phoenix, the L.A. Clippers and New Orleans, Bryant scored 42, 37 and 30 points respectively, an average of 36.3 per game to lead the NBA. The 42 was a season high, and came courtesy of a triple-overtime thriller in which he also added 12 rebounds and nine assists. It was the 107th 40-point game of his career and third this season. Only two players in NBA history – Wilt Chamberlain (271) and Michael Jordan (173) have more.

His recent scoring binge has vaulted Bryant past Derrick Rose (24.9) and Carmelo Anthony (25.1) on the league scoring chart, where he’s now fifth at 25.2 points per game.
*The NBA didn’t start rewarding Player of the Week awards for both conferences until 2001; previously, Bryant was named NBA Player of the Month once (December 2000) and NBA Player of the Week twice (April 16, 2000 and Dec. 24, 2000).

Lakers – Hornets Postgame Numbers

We compiled some of the more interesting numbers from L.A.’s win over the New Orleans Hornets, the Lakers emerging victorious for the 15th time in 16 games out of the All-Star break and eighth time in a row:

3 Straight games of at least 30 points for Kobe Bryant, who hit the 30-point mark in the final minute on 11-of-25 field goals. He dropped 37 and 42 in his previous two games.

6 Total three-pointers made by both teams, with respectively poor 3-of-17 lines.

9 Straight home wins for the Lakers.

16 Rebounds for Pau Gasol to lead all players, including four on the offensive end, plus a game-high four blocks.

18 The biggest lead attained by the Lakers; New Orleans led by three early in the first quarter, but then fought an uphill battle.

24 Points for Carl Landry, playing in place of David West, who tore his ACL for the Hornets last week.

40.2 New Orleans’s shooting percentage, which resulted in this quote from Phil Jackson after the game: “I thought we played real good defensively.” Jackson did note a stretch in the third quarter that he wasn’t pleased with on D, but was otherwise content.

50 Points in the paint for the Lakers, who got 23 in the game from Gasol and 13 from Andrew Bynum.

93.7 L.A.’s winning percentage since the All-Star game with 15 wins in 16 tries.

Lakers 102, Hornets 84: March 27 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday evening home contest against the New Orleans Hornets, the Lakers looking for their seventh straight victory, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Hornets: C. Paul, M. Belinelli, T. Ariza, C. Landry*, E. Okafor
*Landry was starting in place of David West, who tore his ACL last week.

6:00 Entirely obvious right away: the Hornets just do not match up well with the Lakers. Most teams can’t match L.A.’s length inside, but the particularly small squad from N.O. features 6-10 Emeka Okafor at center, and 6-9 Carl Landry at power forward, both of whom saw L.A.’s two seven-footers combine for eight boards and eight points as L.A. took an early 14-9 lead.

0:26 A three-pointer from Bryant made him the early scoring leader with 11, following consecutive games in which he scored 42 and 37 points, while subsequent hoops from Shannon Brown (a transition dunk) and Gasol (nine points, six boards) saw L.A.’s lead climb to 11 at 30-19.

9:30 L.A.’s coaches are watching their second unit closely. In short, they want to see things slow down a bit, as the pace at which Blake, Brown, Barnes, Odom and Bynum have been playing has been a bit too fast for ideal production. Assistant Jim Cleamons told me after Saturday’s practice that Blake and Barnes in particular have been so eager to pass and move the ball that sometimes the offense doesn’t have a chance to get set up, and that also hurts the defense, which isn’t able to get back when the O doesn’t dictate tempo.

8:53 Of course, when Brown takes off in the air with the ball in his right hand, looks over his shoulder to a trailing Hornets center (Aaron Gray) and then switches the ball to his left hand before jamming home, L.A.’s coaches will take it. That put the Lakers up 10 at 36-26.

4:04 New Orleans cut L.A.’s once 12-point lead down to four behind Landry and his 13 points, but back came Gasol, amassing two blocks, a rebound, two buckets and extra free throw in a minute and change as the Lakers went up 13 at 50-37 (a 10-1 run). He had 14 points and eight boards at that point. The run would improve to 17-5 by quarter’s end, giving the Lakers a big cushion at 57-41. Bryant was already up to 19 points.

9:38 One thing not going LAL’s way was Bynum’s foul situation, as the big man’s fourth came 30 seconds into the second half, bringing Odom off the bench. Shortly thereafter, Odom snuck into the paint to tip in Gasol’s miss, keeping the margin at 15.

3:48 With Bynum struggling with foul trouble all game, Gasol took care of the glass for the Lakers, grabbing his 14th board and then finishing Odom’s pass at the other end to get to 19 points, just short of Bryant’s 24. LAL were still comfortably ahead at 72-55.

2:55 After missing his first seven shots, Fisher nailed an absolute rainbow that seemed to nearly hit the scoreboard before dropping through. But as Phil Jackson explained before the game, he couldn’t care less if Fisher scores, and wishes he wouldn’t be judged by his stats. Fisher is in to manage the game, which he does better than anyone else Jackson could put into the triangle, and finds ways to contribute defensively at key moments. Jackson seemed almost annoyed that one would suggest Fisher isn’t doing exactly what the Lakers want him to do. BTW: N.O. trimmed the lead to 11, 74-63, after three.

6:09 The Hornets continued an 8-2 run to close the third with a 9-4 push to start the fourth, cutting L.A.’s lead down to just six. Jackson, however, stuck by his bench, and was rewarded with a quick 5-0 push that restored the lead to double digits. The energy of Barnes and size of Bynum were the two keys.

4:15 Jackson finally put the starters back in out of a time out, his team up 11, though Blake remained in for Fisher (25 minutes) and Odom replaced Bynum (22 minutes, five fouls). It was Blake connecting right away on a triple off Bryant’s pass, making it 90-76.

1:28 The game had been essentially over since the first half, but a jumper from Odom and two Bryant free throws (28 points) served to put it completely out of reach at 95-82. Sixteen games since the All-Star break, and the Lakers had won 15, the only loss the last-minute failure of execution at Miami. Stay tuned for Postgame Numbers.

Lakers Get Ready for New Orleans, Chris Paul

Sweeping a team for the season is difficult in the NBA, particularly one from a team’s own conference. Yet that’s what the Lakers will look to do against New Orleans, having beaten the Hornets in both trips to the Big Easy as well as a Jan. 7 game at STAPLES Center:

The three previous matchups went as follows:

Dec. 29 at New Orleans: 103-88 Lakers
Jan. 7 at STAPLES: 101-97 Lakers
Feb. 5 at New Orleans: 101-95 Lakers

In the February game, the Lakers went early and often to Pau Gasol, who scored a season-high 34 points while taking advantage of his extra inches against Hornets power forward David West … who tore his ACL late in New Orleans’ Thursday evening win at Utah. As such, former King and Rocket Carl Landry will get the starting nod, as he did in Friday’s 106-100 win at Phoenix.

How different are the Hornets with Landry in for West in terms of a game plan and execution of a system? Not much, according to Phil Jackson. In fact, he answered a reporter’s question about whether or not they were different by saying “No,” calling Landry’s game “very similar.”

“We had a scout watch the game in Phoenix, had some eyes on the game and video of it, and Landry had 19 points, played pretty well,” added Jackson.

Landry, nor starting center Emeka Okafor, were available in the February meeting that saw the Lakers commit just four turnovers in the ball game, one shy of a franchise record. Turnovers could be an issue on Sunday, as the Lakers rank second in the league, but the Hornets just 19th; the hands of Ron Artest, Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant have been particularly active for the Lakers around the perimeter of late.

Driving the Hornets’ ship is, of course, Chris Paul, ever in the league’s-best-point-guard argument. Paul has been slowed by his left knee this season (see the huge brace in the photo on the right), but Jackson cited some recent evidence that suggests Paul is starting to feel better:

He made some big plays last night down the stretch in Phoenix, and kind of the prototype thing that he can do is go inside, take a bump but still have great body control, get in the air and still be able to sustain the balance and form so he can make a shot from eight to 10 feet. He made two or three of those shots with Grant (Hill) guarding him last night, and it showed to me that maybe he’s coming back from some of those knee problems he had before that were limiting his ability to be able to do those things that made him special.

If the season ended today, Paul and his seventh-seeded Hornets would be coming to Los Angeles to take on the No. 2 seed Lakers in the first round, which surely isn’t lost on either team, both looking to make a statement on Sunday.

Lakers – Clippers Postgame Numbers

We compiled some of the more interesting numbers from L.A.’s win over the L.A. Clippers, the Lakers winning for the 14th time in 15 games out of the All-Star break and sixth time in a row:

0 Points for Clips leading scorer Eric Gordon through three quarters on 0-for-11 shooting. Gordon did manage seven points in the fourth quarter, making all three of his attempts. In related news, Ron Artest guarded Gordon for much of the game.

0 Lead changes in a game the Lakers lead from start to finish.

5 Games behind the San Antonio Spurs in the standings, as the Spurs have won six of their last 10 with L.A. losing only once since the break.

6 Combo of blocks and steals for Ron Artest, including a critical swipe of the ball from Blake Griffin in the final minute to help the Lakers lock up the win. He added two swats of three-point attempts. “He made some rather spectacular stops,” said Phil Jackson.

7 Rebounding advantage for the Lakers at 41-34.

17 Free throw attempts for Kobe Bryant, a season high by four (he took 13 four previous times), of which he made 14 en route to a game-high 37 points. Bryant hit 11-of-21 field goals.

18 Free throw attempts by the Clippers, who made 15, 13 fewer than the Lakers (28).

50 Percent shooting for both teams, LAL hitting 39-of-78 and LAC 42-of-84.

$26,000 Dollars raised for Japan relief by Pau Gasol, who pledged $1,000 per point he scored tonight to aid those suffering from the devastating natural disaster in Japan. Magic Johnson pledged to match Gasol’s contribution, and with the Spaniard going for 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting, a total of $52,000 would be sent.

Lakers 112, Clips 104: March 25 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening home contest against the Clippers, the Lakers looking for their sixth straight win, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Clippers: M. Williams, E. Gordon, R. Gomes, B. Griffin, C. Kaman

7:22 The Lakers were hotter than the chicken pot pie I left in my microwave for a minute too long for lunch to open the game, sinking 8-of-9 shots to take an 18-10 lead into the first time out. Spaniard Pau Gasol opened the day he joined Twitter (@PauGasol) by sinking his first four shots, three of them jumpers, showing off the fact that he ranks third in the NBA in percentage of long two’s made (Al Horford, Dirk Nowitzki).

4:04 Speaking of long two’s from Gasol, he dropped yet another to push the Laker lead to 26-14, reaching 10 points himself as the team improved to 12-of-17 from the field.

0:00 The Lakers finally missed a few shots, finishing just 2-for-8, but still scored 33 points to take a 10-point lead out of the period. The Clips did manage the highlight of the period when Blake Griffin slammed home a half-court alley-oop, though Lamar Odom (@RealLamarOdom, while we’re at it), threw a gorgeous behind-the-back pass to Gasol for a dunk.

8:12 The first non-Odom scoring contribution off the Lakers bench came from @SteveBlake5, whose three-pointer gave the Lakers a 38-29 lead, despite a hustling and scrapping bunch of Clippers.

6:17 from Twitter: @LakersReporter: LAX air traffic control just alerted on a nasty up-and-under reverse jam from the baseline by @ShannonBrown. Things stayed fun on the next possession, when Ron Artest literally copied Brown’s dunk, if perhaps with less air, and Odom matched a three-pointer from Mo Williams. Then just for good measure, Griffin added a tomahawk alley-oop jam of his own. Quite a basketball show at STAPLES.

1:48 With Bynum resting, the Lakers lost their defensive edge, allowing the Clips to hang around and cut LAL’s lead to as few as three. Another Gasol jumper made it 51-46, however, giving him a game-high 14 points, meaning $14,000 for Japanese relief efforts as he pledged on Thursday. Every point equaled a grand for Japan, and in fact, Magic Johnson pledged to match whatever Gasol was able to raise, meaning $28,000 had already been earned. A steal and resulting layup from Odom allowed L.A. a 57-48 lead at the break.

Continue reading ‘Lakers 112, Clips 104: March 25 Running Diary’

Gasol to Donate $1,000 Per Point to Japanese Relief

Every time Pau Gasol scores a point in L.A.’s Friday evening game against the Clippers, he’ll send $1,000 towards the relief and recovery effort around the tragedy in Japan.

Through Direct Relief International, one of the world’s leading medical relief organizations, Gasol and 19 other NBA players (including his brother Marc of the Grizzlies) committed to help the people of Japan in respective games occurring between the 25th and 27th of March.

Gasol, who is averaging nearly 19 points per game this season, shared his thoughts on the matter after his team’s Thursday afternoon practice:

When natural disaster like that occurs, I think it affects us all. You never know where it’s going to happen next, or if it’s going to happen to somebody close to you, related to you or yourself. The world has to team up and get together and help and support, and that’s why I knew I was going to do something. It was just a matter of how and when, and when I learned about the Direct Relief International and what they were doing, supplying medical supplies and financial support right away and making a difference, I thought it was the right fit. That’s why I’m going to donate $1,000 for each point I score in tomorrow’s game, and I’m proud to join a few other NBA players* that are also part of this initiative.

The donations go towards supporting the immediate health needs of people affected by the earthquake and resulting tsunami’s off Japan’s coast, and to assist local authorities best situated to assess, respond and prepare for the long-term recovery, according to a release from Direct Relief International.

“Direct Relief responds to emergencies all around the world, including the U.S., and the scale of the tragedy in Japan is immense by any measure,” said Thomas Tighe, President and CEO of Direct Relief International. “These world-class NBA athletes are showing world-class generosity to support people in Japan who need help now and will still need it as the headlines fade. We hope they light up the scoreboards this weekend.”

“We are incredibly proud that our athletes have rallied together to assist with Direct Relief’s efforts in Japan,” said Arn Tellem, principal of the management division of Wasserman Media Group, which represents the donating athletes. “Due to the gravity of the situation, we hope that citizens around the world consider following the example of our athletes by making a donation of any amount to an organization of their choice assisting in the Japanese relief efforts.”

For Gasol, who donated similarly to the relief of Haiti last year, doing so was natural.

“It’s just something that you feel like doing,” he concluded. “You put yourself in the position of people that are struggling, and you can’t even imagine it even if you see some of the images that are out there. You just try to be a leader in a way, and hopefully attract some more people and awareness so people will join you, and more support is created by it.”

UPDATE: Gasol scored 26 points against the Clippers to raise a total of $26,000.