Lakers Now

Round-the-Clock Purple and Gold

« Previous Post | Lakers Now Home | Next Post »

Lakers forward Pau Gasol gradually phasing back into form

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson has prodded Pau Gasol all preseason, saying just last week that he's "been on vacation" ever since the Lakers began training camp nearly a month ago. He's repeatedly pushed Gasol into preparing for what may become an inevitable scenario once the Lakers start the season Oct. 26 against Houston. Despite the progress Kobe Bryant showed in the Lakers' 99-94 preseason loss Sunday to the Utah Jazz, there's still uncertainty over how much strength he will have in his right knee by the season opener. There's also, of course, uncertainty on when Andrew Bynum will return from rehabilitating his surgically repaired right knee.

I documented in detail Jackson's expectation of Gasol becoming the team's leader in case Bryant and Bynum aren't up to speed at the beginning of the season. The post also looked at how Gasol might adjust fitting into that role. As with any preseason game, it's necessary to take Sunday's result, and more importantly the team's development, as simply a non-definitive snapshot that could change as early as the next exhibition. Gasol's performance against Utah, for example, showcased gradual progress, while still revealing there's more work to do.

"Not bad, getting better," Gasol said after posting 28 points and nine rebounds on eight of 15 shooting. "Rhythm feeling a little stronger and testing a couple things. Overall, not bad."

Not bad, considering he led the team in scoring. Not bad, considering he went 12 of 14 from the free-throw line after entering the contest shooting 60% from the stripe. Not bad, considering Gasol showcased his usual nifty footwork and length in the post.

But it wasn't great either. Gasol started out two for eight, with Jackson saying he had "close shots, but he just didn't have good shots." Gasol struggled matching up with Utah newcomer Al Jefferson, who had 14 points on five of nine shooting and beat Gasol a few times on quick drop steps. And he doesn't look close to the player who Jackson called the team's MVP for the last 30 games of the regular season, nor is he as sharp as when he averaged 18.6 points and 11.6 rebounds in the 2010 Finals, including a 19-point, 18-rebound performance in Game 7.

Jackson understands that will come, his tone changing Sunday with more encouragement.

"I think he's starting to get in game shape," Jackson said. "There's some empathy for him, not sympathy."

And in return, Gasol seems to be embracing what the team expects from him. His preseason 29.2 minutes per game ranks second behind Lamar Odom (33.6), and he played 36 against Utah partly because rookie forward Derrick Caracter sat out with back spasms.

"It's important that I deliver, that Lamar delivers," Gasol said. "Pretty much everybody needs to step up. Theo [Ratliff] needs to be ready also. Obviously we understand the situation."

-- Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at [email protected]

Comments () | Archives (10)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Yeah, it's a process.

I would still like to know if Pau's hitting the weights anymore. It seemed to help a lot in 2009, but then I thought I heard he'd cut back again. MM - heard anything about that?

Good Morning ladies and gents, nice to see the Mamba regaining his form, it was just a matter of time. The Jazz rookie Hayward looked pretty good, if he'll continue to improve maybe ROOKIE of the YEAR consideration. Our rookie look like a rook, need to understand the system better.

CARRY ON NATION, have a great day.

MM - I'm just trying to keep my "tough on MM" streak alive. You do AWESOME work for us - and it's much appreciated by this Lakerholic.

Our defense is what was lacking the most. It will take a few more games at least for everyone to start clicking on that end by covering for each other.

I thought Artest played really well on the block in the first half and then for some strange reason, they didn't get the rock to him in the second.

I don't fault Pau for getting burned by Al Jefferson's drop-step moves. He's actually really good at that, and that's pretty much his only real offensive weapon (as compared to all the ways that Pau can score).

I understand that the starters need to log minutes, but I still hope that PJ would play Lakers #6-16(?) on the depth chart a bit more.

Our defense is what was lacking the most. It will take a few more games at least for everyone to start clicking on that end by covering for each other.

I thought Artest played really well on the block in the first half and then for some strange reason, they didn't get the rock to him in the second.

Posted by: mclyne | October 18, 2010 at 10:04 AM

Other than the fact that it was a meaningless pre-season scrimmage, the only thing that mattered last night (if it mattered at all), was how the Lakers looked in the third quarter when they played with energy and the second unit getting more time on the floor before the real practice season starts. It will take Blake, Barnes, Ratliff and the rookies (who will see very little playing time anyway) a couple of months to fully integrate. I think Blake will be comfortable around February and Barnes will take a little longer because of the complexities of the triangle for wing players. It took Artest a full season and he's still learning, although he looks very comfortable in these scrimmages. Ratliff will get it the quickest because the triangle is not as complicated for bigs and he will be asked to do very little on offense other than to set screens and get some put backs.

63 Footer - As you know, Pau took it pretty easy this summer in terms of basketball so that's part of the equation of getting back into shape. But he performed individual workouts including weight lifting. Pau lifts but not to bulk up; more to maintain strength and all that. In other words, you won't be seeing Pau look like DJ Mbenga any time soon

MM - thanks. I just remember when Pau was saying he'd never really lifted before, and it seemed to help his strength a lot when he did. Still, wouldn't everyone freak if one summer he came back looking like Dwight Howard? He'd be peeing into a cup till the cows came home.

Good morning Blog O Holics,

Decent game last night. One thing I've noticed is that we come out pretty flat in the first quarter. That's something I'd like to see change before pre-season ends. Kobe looks more and more like Kobe every game. Pau will be fine, too.

For me, the two biggest surprises in pre-season are Ron Artest and Ebanks. Ron's svelt trim and improved knowledge of the triangle has shown us that he can contribute in ways we didn't really see last season. He's scoring very effeciently (both in the post and from the perimeter) and he's crashing the boards well, too. Add his excellent D to the mix and we could see an even more effective Ron Artest this season. Awesome.

Ebanks (And Caracter when he's gotten minutes) has really impressed me with his hustle. He's made some very rookie mistakes, taken some questionable shots, but his hustle and tenacity around the rim have been very nice to see. Another stellar late draft pick by one Mitch Kupchak.

The addition of Ebanks and Ron's continued development in the system (combined with the fact that he was instrumental in bringing the title back to LA last season) should finally put to rest any notion that we lost out on not signing Trevor Ariza. Ebanks not only looks kinda like Trevor, but has the same lanky quickness we all came to appreciate. A few years seasoning, some vet tutelage from Kobe, Barnes and Artest and we'll see some pretty positive development come from the young man.

Overall, preseason has shaped up exactly as it should. Some minutes for our vets and lots of floor time for guys who most likely won't crack the 20mpg mark. Can't wait for the regular season to start in 8 days.


Gasol plays best when he plays as a power forward. I saw him getting beat a few times by Utah's BIG MEN. Well, I hope the Lakers sign or trade for one more big man to have more depth in center position. With Bynum and Ratliff's injury history and now Caracter out (don't know about his injury history,) I'd like the Lakers sign another big man. Fabricio Oberto could be a good fit and is still on the market although it won't be easy to have him sign with minimum salary. I also miss Ronny Turiaf (and his dance.) Is there someway we could trade for him?



In Case You Missed It...


All Things Lakers »

Your database for all things purple and gold.

Find a Laker

Search a name

Select a season

Choose one of our lists



About the Bloggers

Bleacher Report | Lakers

Reader contributions from Times partner Bleacher Report

More Lakers on Bleacher Report »

Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists:

In Case You Missed It...