Dissecting Pau Gasol's poor shooting mark in Game 2 against New Orleans
The statistics prove so daunting for Pau Gasol that he's trying to cling to the positive regarding his four-of-19 shooting clip (21%) through two playoff games against New Orleans. I don't think I can shoot any worse than im shooting now."
But when will it get better? After scoring posting only eight points on two-of-nine shooting and six rebounds in Game 1, Gasol somehow worsened that clip with nine points on two-of-10 shooting and five rebounds in Game 2. That's not how it was supposed to turn out, given the vows from Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Gasol himself that El Spaniard would play more aggressively. He certainly showed that in Game 2, but it came nowhere near his regular-season efforts against the Hornets where he averaged 22.3 points and 12.8 rebounds while shooting 70.5%. Gasol enters Game 3 at New Orleans with a vow that he both remains healthy and ready enough to show a better effort.
Said Gasol: "I have to keep myself being aggressive, figuring things out and watching tape to see where I can get better looks."
Below the jump is a look at that tape.
First quarter, 11:20-11:37
After Kobe Bryant threw an entry pass in to Ron Artest, Gasol immediately crashed the glass. Once Artest missed a layup in the lane, Gasol attempted a putback, but it hit off the rim. He couldn't maintain control of the ball, as Chris Paul swiped it out of his hands.
First quarter, 11:14 - 11:04
Following his inbounds pass to Bryant at the top of the key, Gasol cut baseline and established post position on the left block. Once Artest fed him a bounce pass, Gasol squared up in triple threat position and then attempted a 14-footer that hit off the backboard. Gasol had enough space to drive into the lane, but he opted for the jumper instead.
First quarter, 5:58-5:50
Derek Fisher threw an entry pass to Gasol, while Hornets forward Carl Landry defended him. Gasol spun and drove baseline, but Landry shut off his penetration. Gasol then picked up his dribble and settled for a 12-foot jumper that hit off the back rim.
Second quarter, 10:15-10:03
With Hornets forward Aaron Gray forcing Gasol to extend himself out on the wing, Lamar Odom fed him the pass and then cut baseline in hopes the Hornets could shift their rotations over and give more room for Gasol to operate. Gray gave Gasol the space to hit the mid-range jumper, but Gasol dribbled right into the lane. Gray adjusted and forced Gasol to pick up his dribble. He performed an up-and-under, but Gray blocked the shot.
Third quarter, 9:42 - 9:49
Gasol's tendency to settle for mid-range jumpers instead of attacking the basket remains befuddling. Once Fisher threw an entry pass to Gasol as he posted up on Landry, Gasol squared up and pivoted. Landry guarded him tight, so Gasol posted him up and settled for a 14-foot fadeaway. Said TNT analyst Reggie Miller: "You have a size advantage. Take the ball down low."
Third quarter, 3:53-3:47. Finally some aggressiveness. After Odom missed a free throw, Gasol tipped the rebound back to Bryant. Bryant then fed Gasol at the free-throw line. Immediately after catching the ball, Gasol noticed Gray out of position, so he drove into the lane for the left-handed layup.
Third quarter, 2:35-2:30. Gasol was about to set a screen for Bryant. But it wasn't necessary. Gray and Trevor Ariza double-teamed Bryant to deny him an open look driving, so Bryant fed Gasol a jump pass toward the right block. Instead of driving into the lane, Gasol pulled up for a 16-footer, which rimmed out.
Third quarter, :46-:40
Once Artest fed him inside, Gasol squared up, dribbled left and then picked up his dribble as soon as Hornets forward Jason Smith denied him space. Gasol twisted and turned into a forced 7-footer that clanked off the back rim.
What this means
Gasol constantly looked for his shot, but the minute New Orleans fronted him in the post, Gasol settled for a jumper. Gasol showed some willingness to do that with making all four of his free-throw attempts, but it proved not to be enough. Gasol is normally a consistent mid-range jumper, but there's no reason he should be backing down from Gray and Landry when Gasol has the size advantage.
E-mail the Lakers blog at email@example.com
Photo: Lakers power forward Pau Gasol tries to block a shot by Hornets center Aaron Gray during Game 2 of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs on Wednesday night at Staples Center. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times / April 20, 2011