Turiaf was a key piece in the Laker rotation during two full seasons, 06-07 and 07-08. The French énérgetique contributed greatly to the Lakers return to championship form, delivering the extra juice from the bench that a crafty ball alchemist like Jackson is always so focused on controlling. Unsurprisingly, Turiaf has clocked some of the highest stats of his career early in that 06-07 season.
As a power forward, Turiaf plays in the same position as Gasol, and they have shared many minutes together. That familiarity showed at the game against New York last Sunday: it was interesting to see them both working around the same zones of the hardwood, both distributing the ball smartly from the elbow. And surely, Ronny and Gasol matched defensively near the post. Turiaf is slightly lighter and shorter than the Spaniard but knew exactly how to push his weight behind him to deter him from making any move.
With Turiaf battling him for position in three consecutive Laker offenses, Gasol gave the rock the first time without trying anything. The second time he spun and reversed looking to find some rim, but Turiaf stuck to him flawlessly and he had to pass the ball again. The third time the Spaniard spun lightning quick neatly leaving Turiaf behind, but Ronny reached and cleanly slapped the ball out of Gasol’s hands: no whistle. Why the Knicks coach did not continue to exploit this edge is mysterious to me, as Turiaf only played for a little more than six minutes. Stoudemire might be the visible face putting the New York Knicks in the headlines again, but having a skilled and knowledgeable champion like Turiaf contributing is one of the many intangibles that will make them a winning basketball team again. This one, they lost. Maybe they should have used experienced ex-laker Ronny Turiaf a little bit more.