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Category: Pau Gasol

Five ways to decrease the Lakers' turnovers

The Lakers are lucky they beat the Memphis Grizzlies.

If they commit 27 turnovers, which they did in their 90-82 win Sunday against Memphis, against any other team, the Lakers will most likely lose. They held on only because the Grizzlies shot horribly from the field, lacked frontline depth without Zach Randolph and the Lakers surprisingly featured a balanced offense. That won't happen every game. 

"That's an area I didn't think we'd have a problem with," Lakers Coach Mike Brown said. 

But they do. The Lakers average 16.7 turnovers, third most in the NBA, and they've provided few signs that will change. But here are a few suggestions on where to start. 

1. Know offense better. The Lakers (6-4), like all NBA teams, have experienced challenges facing a compacted 66-game schedule. That includes striking a balance between practice time and rest, and processing as many new concepts as possible without falling into information overload. Brown conceded he hasn't done well in that department and hasn't been able to plan long-term.

But the Lakers' unfamiliarity with the offense will quickly become nothing more than an excuse.  For now, the Lakers clearly show discomfort on where exactly to cut and pass on offense. 

"We have a little ways to go before it's just instinct and you can make things happen," Lakers guard Steve Blake said. "We're in that in between phase between knowing it and reacting on instinct, and sometimes we're just thinking too much."

2. Don't make home-run plays. That's the buzzword Brown and players use for fancy passes. There's been plenty of them. Blake and Derek Fisher have thrown way too many lobs to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in hopes to spark the offense. A simply entry pass will do. 

3. Give Kobe Bryant relief from ball-handling duties. Bryant's the main offender in turnovers, averaging 4.1, which points to problems with the torn ligament in his right wrist. That means the Lakers should keep his ball-handling in isolation sets to a minimum. 

4. Andrew Bynum must learn soon how to play out of double teams. Bynum remains second on the team in turnovers, averaging 3.33. That number will go up the longer Bynum struggles passing out of double teams. Brown and Gasol suggested, however, this process will take time. 

5. Take more shots. Of course, crisp ball movement and sharp cutting will create quality shots. But for the sake of minimizing losses, the Lakers should feel less guilty taking a bad shot than committing the turnover. It's more than likely either Gasol or Bynum can grab the offensive putback. 

RELATED: 

Kobe Bryant practices; Josh McRoberts remains sidelined

Lakers' balanced effort against Memphis looked ugly

Five things to take away from Lakers' 90-82 victory over Memphis

--Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Pau Gasol shows off point-guard skills against Memphis

For better or worse, it appears Lakers forward Pau Gasol remains the team's top point guard.

Derek Fisher officially maintains that role, but aside from his hustle plays, he's hardly provided much this year. Steve Blake remains strong from the outside, but sometimes his lob passes don't hit the intended target. And Darius Morris remains on the team's inactive list because of his inexperience. 

So in what became the Lakers' 90-82 victory Sunday over the Memphis Grizzlies, Gasol took charge as point guard on one fast-break play in which he threw a behind-the-back pass to Andrew Bynum. It looked as beautiful as something fellow Spaniard Ricky Rubio might pull off for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

"He got his moves from me," Gasol said jokingly. "I'm just kidding — maybe not."

Either way, it at least speaks to Gasol's ability to embrace a facilitating role while Bynum assumes a heavier scoring load. Take it as a statement that the Lakers don't really need Chris Paul.

OK, that's a stretch. But Gasol is hardly entering uncharted territory. As shown in the video below, he once dribbled behind his back and then fired the ball between his legs to former Lakers forward Trevor Ariza for a fast-break dunk.

Said Lakers television analyst Stu Lantz: "There's a point guard in Pau's body that's itching to get out."

RELATED:

Kwame Brown inspired more than just Andrew Bynum

Kobe Bryant impressed with Tim Tebow

Kobe Bryant adjusting well with his shot

— Mark Medina

Email the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Five things to watch in Lakers-Grizzlies matchup

6a00d8341c506253ef0148c74369ce970c-320wiSome things to keep an eye on when the Lakers (5-4) host the Memphis Grizzlies (3-4) Sunday evening at Staples Center.

1. The Gasol brothers. The elements surrounding this matchup between Pau, the Lakers' power forward, and Marc, the Grizzlies' center, proves to be a tad different. Lakers Coach Mike Brown isn't needling Pau about playing against Marc as Phil Jackson often did. Pau, at least according to Kobe Bryant, has apparently fallen to No. 3 in the offensive pecking order behind center Andrew Bynum. And though Marc plays at center, it's possible he could match up directly with Pau at power forward at times because of Zach Randolph's long-term injury.

Pau has adjusted wonderfully during Bynum's scoring surge by focusing on nailing mid-range jumpers with efficiency. But he still needs to maintain his aggressiveness to maximize scoring chances. Since this matchup always elevates Pau's focus, this could be a good start. 

2. How will Memphis fare without Randolph? Brown believes the Grizzlies are still a playoff team despite losing Randolph for at least six weeks after he tore the MCL in his right knee. But the Grizzlies' depleted frontcourt could be painfully noticeable against the Lakers, even if they'll be without reserve power forward Josh McRoberts for the fourth consecutive game because of a sprained big toe on his left foot. With Bynum starting to face more double teams, this could provide a good opportunity for him to play through less resistance. 

3. Will Tony Allen force Kobe Bryant to work harder for his shots? Bryant's clearly shown the torn ligament in his right wrist won't hinder too many things, including his volume of shots: he has averaged 27.25 attempts in the last four games. Ever since his disastrous six-of-28 showing last week, Hoopdata shows that Bryant's most effective at shooting within 10-15 feet of the basket, going nine of 12.  

But will Allen's effort to force Bryant to work harder for shots move him outside of his comfort zone? Bryant went eight for eight from shots 16-23 feet this week against Houston and four of six against Portland, but that mark dipped to five of 12 against Golden State. Meanwhile, Bryant's three-point shooting has remained a disastrous three of 14 in the last three games. That's why it's critical Bryant tries to remain in his comfort zone regardless of the tougher defense Allen might put on him.

4. Will the small forward spot remain in flux? Against Golden State, Matt Barnes scored 16 points and defended Monta Ellis reasonably well, while Metta World Peace sat out the entire second half and Devin Ebanks didn't play at all. But Brown said this rotation remains in flux, depending on how well each player performs. 

5. Mike Conley gives the Lakers another backcourt test. He has skills to be a scorer and utilizes his speed well, but Conley remains a threat because of his ability to organize Memphis' offense. Conley will try again to be a catalyst as Memphis continues to shuffle its lineup and rotations. The Grizzlies, which have struggled with outside shooting, are averaging only 92.8 points a game.

RELATED:

Pau Gasol avoids trash talking with Marc Gasol

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Memphis guard Tony Allen tries to cut off the drive of Lakers guard Kobe Bryant in a 2010-11 regular-season game. Credit: Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

Pau Gasol avoids trash talking with Marc Gasol

The dialogue between the Gasol brothers remains constant throughout the season.

Pau and Marc will usually call or text each other at least every other day, monitoring their progress with the Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies, respectively. When the Lakers nearly traded Pau to the Houston Rockets before training camp, Marc remained in Los Angeles to provide support. When the lockout lifted, the two worked out together at the Lakers' facility in El Segundo. And, of course, the two were instrumental last summer in Spain's winning the FIBA World Championships.

But when the Lakers (5-4) host the Grizzlies (3-4) on Sunday, the dialogue won't be the same.

"We don't really talk about it,"  Pau said after Saturday's practice. "We don't talk about the game. We don't talk during the game much. There's not much worth talking about. We're just focused on trying to compete and go at each other when we have the opportunity."

This speaks to the brothers' competitiveness and to the respect they have for each other. Pau vividly remembers that "I'm up" in their teams' matchup, holding a 7-3 edge with the Lakers against the Grizzlies. He also has posted better averages than Marc in those games in points (15.9 to 10.6), shooting percentage (50.4% to 42.4%) and rebounds (10.2 to 9.5). But Memphis beat the Lakers twice last season. 

Don't expect the Gasols to talk about that, however, when they continue a tradition in which the brother in the host city treats the other to dinner before or after the game.

"We understand it's painful to lose and painful to lose against a brother," Gasol said. "Even though you might be happy for the winner, you still feel pretty crappy." 

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Kobe Bryant senses change in pecking order for Gasol, Bynum

Moments after attacking the basket, Kobe Bryant drew a double team and saw something out of the corner of his eye.

Pau Gasol just cut toward the right elbow and found himself wide open. The 18,997 at Staples Center may have seen this sequence countless times, but the execution still proved just as captivating. Bryant kicked the ball out and toward the elbow. Gasol caught it. He squared up. Gasol then sank the mid-range jumper.

That play in the Lakers' 97-90 victory Friday over the Golden State Warriors provided a Kodak moment for multiple reasons.

It gave the Lakers a 91-82 lead with 2:28 left and secured what Lakers Coach Mike Brown described as an "ugly" win. Bryant and Gasol hugged each other at mid-court, leading the Lakers forward later to say, "It's good to have that connection with Kobe." More importantly, the play at least brought to Bryant's mind how Gasol has to fit in with the offense when center Andrew Bynum has literally taken away his touches since returning to the lineup for the last four games. 

"Pau has to shoot it," Bryant said. "He's not a scorer by nature. That's been the biggest thing with Andrew's development. Andrew is thirsty to score. That takes a lot of pressure off of Pau. But when Pau has shots, he has to shoot them."

In other words, Bryant just redefined the pecking order only two years after famously saying, "I eat first, and Pau eats second." But with Bynum clearly topping Gasol in points (22.3, 17.5)  and rebounds (15.8, 7.75) in the first four games since returning from his suspension, it's hard not to wonder if Bryant sees that pecking order evolving.

"It seems like it's changing a little bit," Bryant conceded. "Andrew is thirsty to score. He can score. He has more of a scorer's mentality so we'll take advantage of that."

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Kobe Bryant maintains high scoring rate

Among the highlights of my breakdown on the Lakers' 97-90 victory Friday over the Golden State Warriors:

  • The Lakers played a horrific first half played out like another version of the Hangover. They shot 36% from the field, committed 12 turnovers and appeared fatigued from a back-to-back the previous night at Portland. Fortunately for the Lakers, the energy picked up in the third quarter and sparked more offense. 
  • We've seen Kobe Bryant score a lot of points despite the heavy injuries. But it still proves an amazing sight to see. His 39 points on 13 of 28 shooting punctuated his third consecutive game he scored at least 30. In this ongoing debate regarding his shots, it always matters where Bryant takes them. Against Golden State, they mostly came from baseline jumpers and from the mid-to-high post, both areas that play to Bryant's strength. In the locker room, Bryant wore what looked like a giant oven mitt to protect his right wrist. 
  • The pecking order between Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum have changed. Bryant told me after the game he considers Bynum as the No. 2 option, but that he's going to have to fight through double teams and that Gasol has to maintain aggressiveness. Bynum's nine points on three of nine shooting illustrates that struggle, but he's still giving a good effort with 16 rebounds. Meanwhile, Gasol establishing a good fine line between remaining fine with Bynum's quest for scoring, while ensuring he still capitalizes on his mid-range jumpers.        
  • Matt Barnes played his best game as a Laker, scoring 16 points on seven of nine shooting. He also defended Monta Ellis as well as the circumstances allowed, allowing 18 points on eight of 20 shooting. Barnes is a fiery player and overplays his aggressiveness at times. But he remained professional throughout Devin Ebanks' starts and also lended support. It's good he maintained that perspective because it remains clear Barnes is keeping this spot. Kudos for Metta World Peace for remaining diplomatic about playing only 10 minutes partly because of Barnes' strong play.                                                                                                                                 

RELATED:

Five things to take away from Lakers' 97-90 win over Golden State

Mike Brown downplays Kobe Bryant's wrist injections

Lakers vs. Warriors: Live updates from the game

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Andrew Bynum showing more aggressiveness

Even an hour removed from a prolonged practice on Monday, Lakers center Andrew Bynum talked with reporters while lugging around a medicine ball.

Consider it one of many examples of Bynum remaining focused on his craft. Even before practice is scheduled to start, Bynum often is already at the facility working on post moves on his own to improve his balance and base. In July and August, he worked out with boxing trainer Freddie Roach to improve his hand-eye coordination and footwork. And then once the NBA lockout formally ended, Bynum shipped off to Atlanta to reengage in a yearly off-season routine with trainer Sean Zarzana. There, he developed quicker post moves, improved his back-to-the basket and deeper post positioning and learned how to pass better out of the post before reposting.

Bynum's average of 23.5 points on 66.7% shooting and 14.5 rebounds in 30 minutes through his first two games provides too small of a sample size to make sweeping conclusions. But it's clearly showing how Bynum's off-season work has translated into becoming a more aggressive and efficient center. 

"I'm attacking every game with a different mind-set," Bynum said.

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Pau Gasol relieved he didn't get traded to Houston Rockets

Once tipoff approaches, Pau Gasol will arrive at Staples Center, go through starting lineup introductions and greet his opponent at halfcourt.

Had NBA Commissioner David Stern not interfered in a three-team trade, the Lakers-Rockets game Tuesday would have featured Gasol in different circumstances. He would play at center instead of power forward. He would wear a red uniform instead of a gold one. He would match up against his former teammate Andrew Bynum instead of forward Luis Scola. But Gasol maintains he won't think about such scenarios once he actually steps foot on the Staples Center court.

"Maybe one or two [thoughts], but once I get into the game I'm too focused right now to try to help the team win," Gasol said. 

The Lakers (3-3) have plenty of issues entering Tuesday's game against the Rockets (2-2), what with a new coaching staff, Kobe Bryant's torn ligament in his right wrist and the team's inconsistency in closing out games. But that pales to what Houston faces with Yao Ming's retirement, Chuck Hayes and Shane Battier leaving via free agency and a large void at the center spot.

That's partly why Gasol remained relieved Stern rejected a trade that would have sent him to Houston, Chris Paul to the Lakers and Scola, Lamar Odom and Kevin Martin to the New Orleans Hornets. After winning two NBA championships and appearing in three consecutive Finals, the last thing Gasol wanted was to join a mid-tier team. 

"It was going to be kind of a rebuilding situation," Gasol said. "You'd try to be competitive. It wasn't so much about the franchise or the city. It was just about the situation and how different it would've been than from what I'm used to now. That would've been very hard for me to adjust to, but if it happened and had gone down, I still would've done my best to do what I do and be the player I am and continue to play my best."

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Five things to take away from Lakers-Nuggets game

Kobe Bryant

1. Kobe Bryant was a ball hog. It's completely fair and accurate to pin the Lakers' 99-90 loss Sunday to the Denver Nuggets to a large extent on Bryant, who scored 16 points on six-for-28 shooting. The 22 missed shots overshadowed Bryant's becoming the sixth NBA player (and the youngest) and second guard behind Michael Jordan to score 28,000 points. Said Channel 9's Bill Macdonald: "For Kobe, a historic night for all the wrong reasons."

Bryant is entitled to a bad shooting night and he has unmatched confidence in overcoming a slump. But let's be real. Many of his shots are contested. There also comes a point in a game when Bryant needs to understand he doesn't have his shot that night. So simply adjust. On Saturday against the Nuggets, Bryant faced similar double teams, but he responded by facilitating and rebounding. On Sunday, he simply gunned. To make matters worse, Bryant provided little on defense, committed six turnovers and often argued with officials over calls.

Lakers Coach Mike Brown has already publicly criticized Bryant on his defensive effort during the preseason. Now it's time for Brown to acknowledge the obvious. Bryant's trigger-happy tendencies single-handedly cost the Lakers the game. 

 2. Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum remained impressive, but they weren't used enough. One of the consequences of Bryant's shooting tendencies was the Lakers' not utilizing their size advantage enough. Gasol and Bynum combined for 38 points on 15 for 27 shooting and 27 rebounds. So clearly, this wasn't one of those nights when the Lakers' bigs didn't deserve touches. Had Bryant chosen to pass inside more often instead of shoot, it's likely the Lakers' inside game would've flourished even more. 

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Andrew Bynum proves unstoppable even if he's winded

The moment Andrew Bynum entered the paint there was nothing to hold him back.

Though the Laker center's first shot was blocked by Denver center Timofey Mozgov, it was quickly clear Mozgov couldn't match Bynum.

Concerns about whether Bynum would be featured as the Laker offense's focal point proved unfounded. Kobe Bryant fed him the ball steadily while Pau Gasol enthusiastically deferred to him.

Any doubt that Bynum's off-season work on his post moves would translate onto the court immediately fizzled. Bynum pounded, cut, spun and dunked his way for 29 points on 13 of 18 shooting, with 13 rebounds and two blocks. It was the second-highest scoring effort of his career (he had 42 against the Clippers on Jan. 21, 2009). 

"I just wanted to get down low," Bynum said. "When I shot it today, I made shots. It's easy to talk big and look good when you're making everything. Tonight, I just felt good."

Well, except for one thing. Hauling his 7-foot-0, 285-pound frame up and down the court proved to be more punishing than Denver's frontline defense. Lakers Coach Mike Brown constantly urged Bynum on the sideline to "run, run, run, run, run." Bynum appeared lost on defensive rotations and found himself out of position to make plays. And he admitted he felt "winded like crazy today." 

But the Lakers are just as determined not to give Bynum a free pass on his conditioning. 

"We're going to get him the ball 20 times in a row in Denver, and that Mile High is going to climb on his back real quick, and we're all going to watch him suffer," Lakers guard Derek Fisher said with a grin.

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