After going 2-2 on their most recent four-game road trip, the Los Angeles Lakers return home with a record of 12-13 and sit 2.5 games behind the eighth seeded Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference.
With injuries to point guards Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar, Kobe Bryant has been the de facto point guard while they try to adjust to him being back on the court. However, even with all the problems in the backcourt, forward Pau Gasol has been criticized by Laker fans and head coach Mike D’Antoni for his recent poor play.
Things got so bad that D’Antoni held a team meeting on Friday in Oklahoma City according to Ramona Shelburne and Marc Stein of ESPNLA.com to air any problems with his coaching style:
As ESPN.com reported, D’Antoni also held a team meeting Friday to address the situation, during which he urged Gasol or anyone else who had an issue with his coaching to speak to him directly. Since the meeting, there has been a noticeable shift in Gasol’s attitude and play.
Since that meeting, Gasol is averaging about 17 points and a little under eight rebounds in the last three games. Under D’Antoni, the 33-year-old forward has complained about not getting enough touches in the paint, which affects his aggressiveness on the offensive end.
Along with criticism from D’Antoni, Bryant playfully took a shot at Gasol, saying he was going to light into him since he couldn’t handle several passes during the Lakers 88-85 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats last Saturday.
A free agent at seasons end, it isn’t entirely known whether the Lakers intend to bring Gasol back since he’d have to take a significant pay-cut from the $19 million he’s making this season. While there have been rumors about them looking to trade with either the New York Knicks or Houston Rockets, it looks like GM Mitch Kupchak took the Spaniard off the block.
Seeing Gasol more aggressive is a welcome sign for Laker fans, who know the team is significantly better when he’s contributing in a positive way.
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