At some point this season, Gasol has to decide to make his presence known, just like he did at the start of the season when Bryant wasn’t playing at 100 percent because of his knee. Gasol has to command the basketball in situations where he has a clear advantage with the same exuberance and passion he exhibits when arguing a non-call to the referees.
Whatever contributions Gasol can make on offense becomes more important as Bryant ages. Bryant is always going to want to play hard fourth quarter minutes to get the win. Sunday against the Celtics, the Lakers benefitted from the hot shooting hand of Bryant, but after basically carrying the offensive load of the team for three quarters, he was gassed out in the fourth. Had Gasol contributed a little more during those quarters, we might be telling a different story.
It’s easy to look at Kobe’s 41 points against the Celtics and say he didn’t distribute the ball. He did after all end the night with a big fat zero in the assists column. It was the tenth time this season Bryant took over 40-percent of the Lakers’ shots. The Lakers are 23-5 when Bryant shoots a smaller percentage—less than 35—when on court. Clearly, the Lakers are better when there’s a balanced effort on offense.
In Bryant’s defense, aside from perhaps Lamar Odom, who else on the team was showing any signs of life on offense? Credit the Celtics defense for getting the Lakers out-of-sync offensively, preventing them from spacing the floor and moving the ball to get better shot selections.
Don’t think Gasol didn’t have an opinion on the Lakers’ lack of ball movement.
“It’s not a good thing when you finish with 10 assists,” Gasol told ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne. “When the assists are 20-plus, it’s always a good sign because it tells you that you’re sharing the ball, you’re finding the open man, and the open man is hitting the shots. That didn’t happen tonight.”