Kobe Bryant: Trade speculation has made Pau Gasol emotional
Underneath the positive energy surrounding the Lakers' 111-99 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night stood one frustrated player.
In a game that featured plenty of Kobe Bryant (36 points), plenty of Andrew Bynum (17 points and 14 rebounds) and an improving bench (34 points), Pau Gasol scored 10 points on four-of-13 shooting. Though it appears pointing out a descrepancy involves splitting hairs, Bryant believes reports linking Gasol in a trade has made it "an emotional couple of days for him."
"Personally I don't understand that crap," Bryant said regarding the Lakers' effort to trade Gasol. "But it is what it is. It's important for him to know we support him. I support him especially. I just want him to go out there and play hard and do what he does best for us."
Gasol hardly did that against Phoenix, when he routinely missed open post-up shots, hook shots and put-backs. He appeared frustrated when he bobbled a well-placed pass from Bryant in the third quarter that went out of bounds, slamming the ball against his palms. When Steve Blake's poor entry pass went out of bounds, Gasol slumped on the chair during the next timeout. Phoenix forced a turnover off a double team that trimmed the Lakers' lead to 95-88 with 5:35 remaining, prompting him to shake his head as he ran back on defense. Former teammate Shannon Brown snuck behind Gasol for a put-back dunk that trimmed the lead to 95-90 with 4:28 left.
Gasol has acknowledged in recent days that he remains uncertain the Lakers will keep him. Though Gasol admitted feeling frustrated over what he described as an "erratic night", Gasol said that had nothing to do with his standing with the Lakers.
"At times it crosses your mind, but not exactly when you're playing," Gasol said. "Obviously when you're playing, you're focused and you try to do the best that you can. It's something you have to shake off regardless at any time at any point."
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Photo: Lakers power forward Pau Gasol has his shot blocked by Suns center Marcin Gortat in the first half Friday night at Staples Center. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times