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Pau Gasol plays aggressively in 96-71 win over Utah Jazz

December 28, 2011 | 10:56 am

To evaluate the Lakers' 96-71 victory Tuesday over the Utah Jazz, Coach Mike Brown insisted he needed to watch the film.

But there's one thing that won't require Brown to resort to such coaching cliches: Pau Gasol's 22 points on six-of-11 shooting and a 10-of-12 mark from the free-throw line reflected his increased aggressiveness after taking a backseat in the first two regular-season games. Of course, most of the Lakers' positive developments can be attributed to the inferior opponent it faced. But how Gasol approached the game served as a blueprint for him to follow.

"It gives me more confidence and gives me a path to follow," Gasol said. "It feels good to play at the level you know you're capable of playing for a long time. I found a good path and have to stick to it and continue to do the things I know work."

That path involved constantly cutting into the lane to prompt Kobe Bryant and others to feed him inside. He remained active on the boards, collecting nine. And although Gasol acknowledged that his sprained right shoulder "bothers me a little bit," he played right through it. 

That contrasts with Gasol's other performances. His 14-point effort against Chicago featured some of that same aggressiveness, but it disappeared in a scoreless fourth quarter that included two missed free throws. Gasol's 15 points against Sacramento featured a slow start and a failure to grab rebounds over DeMarcus Cousins late in the game.

Brown defended Gasol to some extent, arguing that he remained a good facilitator. But even he acknowledged the importance that Gasol playing like he did against Utah. After all, that effort marked the first time he eclipsed 20 points in 15 games since the Lakers played Oklahoma City on April 10.

Said Brown: "He was very aggressive and we need that aggression out of him."


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— Mark Medina

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