All the haters who bad-mouthed Pau Gasol for the entire 2012-13 NBA season are nowhere to be found. After Kobe Bryant went down with a torn Achilles tendon, the seven-foot Spaniard put the Los Angeles Lakers on his back and carried them into the playoffs with two trip-doubles in a three-game stretch, including one in the season finale, an overtime win over the Houston Rockets that not only clinched a playoff spot for the Lakers, but put them at the No. 7 seed.
You can talk all you want about Dwight Howard‘s “improved play” since Kobe’s injury, but Gasol is the primary reason why the Lakers are in the playoffs and it’s high time the Rodney Daingerfield of Los Angeles got some respect.
Now the Lakers have to play the San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, which almost guarantees them an early postseason exit. If Steve Nash, Gasol and Howard can come together as an interim Big Three for LA, then the Lakers might have a chance, but without Kobe, they really don’t have any hope of beating a team like the Spurs in a seven-game series. San Antonio lost six of its last nine games, so the Spurs aren’t exactly on a roll right now, but without Bryant on the floor, Gregg Popovich will have his team focused on stopping the Nash, Gasol and Howard. In short, this should be an easy game play for San Antonio.