The Hornets did an excellent job of defending Gasol by getting him out of his comfort zone, I’ll give them that. So much of the reason why the Lakers went on a 17-1 surge after the All-Star break was because of the defensive production they were getting from Bynum. With Bynum at the helm on defense, Gasol was able to focus on offense and leave the bulk of the paint-protection duties to his fellow seven-footer. Bynum only played 22 minutes in this game, was that a factor? Yes, but even that’s a stretch. Gasol had to cover the six-foot-nine Landry who ended the game with 17 points.
The Lakers went up against a team they had dominated during the regular season. When they came close to getting over the hump against the Hornets, they never really had enough energy and focus to take the lead or even keep it. They let their lackadaisical ways follow them into the post-season and that’s just unfortunate.
You win as a team, you lose as a team and the loss doesn’t fall solely on Gasol’s shoulders. The Lakers can’t have more nights that include Bryant having five turnovers, Lamar Odom grabbing only one rebound and Jackson ending the day with the quip, “Ron [Artest] was probably the best player we had out there today.”
That being said, Bryant can’t do it alone. Fisher isn’t always going to have the opportunity to hit the clutch 3-point shot and bottom line, more was expected from Gasol. For the record, Bryant isn’t the least bit worried about Gasol being ready for the next game and what’s even more encouraging, the Lakers won’t have another 12:30 pm start in the first round.
“Pau is our guy,” Bryant said in response to Gasol’s performance Sunday. “He’s our guy, he’s the next in line. Responsibility and pressure comes along with that. He’ll be ready to go next game.”
Gasol’s track record is too pristine, too consistent for him to have another blunder of a game like the one he had to start the playoffs. Here’s to hoping he got it out of his system.[phpbay]Lakers Swingman, 3, “”, “”[/phpbay]