The impact of Kobe Bryant’s suspected Achilles injury was evident on Pau Gasol’s face as he spoke to the media that night. He stood before the cameras, the reporters crowding close to hear his subdued timber, and with tears in his eyes, talked about his teammate and friend.
His somber countenance displayed the level of grief he felt for Bryant, who he proclaimed, did not deserve it. He may be right. Kobe may be one of the hardest working guys in the NBA, but the injury did happen. Kobe is out for an indefinite amount of time, and the Los Angeles Lakers are still in the midst of a playoff run.
The Lakers are in control of their own destiny at the moment. They have just two games left, and just a one-game lead over the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot. Both of their final games are against playoff teams with reason to play their starters.
If the Lakers are going to stand a chance against the San Antonio Spurs or the Houston Rockets, they are going to need Gasol to perform at the highest level. The 13.8 points per game he has been averaging on the season will not cut it. They are going to need much more from him.
Over the last three games, when the Lakers needed it the most, Gasol has put up 22, 23 and 26 point for an average of 23.6. In all three games, Gasol’s efforts were crucial in securing the victory, but the Lakers will need even more.
If Gasol wants to do something for his injured teammate and friend, he needs to do it on the court. This is where the talented seven-footer can make the biggest impact. He can be the difference maker that the Lakers will need if they are going to push their season any further.
Jeff Everette is a Miami Dolphins writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter @jeverettesports, “Like” his page on FaceBook, or add him to your network on Google+.