While many people have stated that a key to the Los Angeles Lakers getting back to the NBA Finals is the play of Pau Gasol, I have long stated the opposite. In order to win again, I have said that the Lakers need to rid themselves of Gasol, who’s play is rapidly declining. However, just for these last seven games at least, the Lakers need Pau Gasol more than ever.
In Gasol’s first two games back from injury, he averaged 5.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists in 21 minutes of play while shooting a measly 27.7 percent from the field. The Lakers went 0-2 in those games. Since that point, Gasol has been averaging 13.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists in 34 minutes of play and is shooting 54.2 percent from the field. The Lakers are 3-1 in those games.
When Gasol shows glimpses of the player he once was, and the Lakers have a solid effort from Kobe Bryant, it usually equates to Laker wins. On Friday, the Lakers will take on a team in the Memphis Grizzlies. They are one of the best in the NBA in defense, and they will be keying on Bryant and Dwight Howard. This is a perfect time for the older Gasol brother to shine.
Gasol’s younger brother, Marc Gasol, will not need any extra motivation in a game of this sort, but Pau might. It seems that when Laker fans begin to put their hopes in seeing the old Gasol return, he lets them down. Lapses in play from Pau have doomed the Lakers time and again, most famously last season when Gasol had multiple turnovers in a playoff game in Oklahoma City. A game in which the Lakers could have won if not for Gasol’s poor plays.
What Laker fans have seen most recently from Pau may wind up being a total mirage which may not last through the playoffs. However, his play will be key for a Lakers win tonight. If Pau can put up a solid line of 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists, the Lakers will win tonight’s game by double digits.
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