Looking at Pau’s 29 against Poland

Phillip Barnett —  August 31, 2011

I didn’t get a chance to catch this game live, so I watched the replay on ESPN3.com while I was at work and documented Pau’s progress during the game. As the title suggests, Pau finished with 29 points and (an unofficial) six rebounds. This is broken down by quarter with each note ending with how many points and rebounds he had when I made said notes.

1st Quarter

– Pau wins opening tip. Sprints to the right block to post up, Marc Gasol travels on his way to the basket. 0 points, 0 rebounds.

– Can’t tell whether or not Pau’s first shot is a long two or a three pointer. It’s a miss either way. On Spain’s next possession, Pau gets the ball in the paint on an out-of-bounds play from the baseline and gets fouled. Makes both free throws. 2 points, 0 rebounds.

– Pau’s 1st rebound of the game comes after a Rudy Fernandez miss. He misses the put-back, but another Spanish ORB leads to Juan Carlos Navarro getting into the paint and finding Pau, who is fouled again. Pau misses the front end, but makes the second. 3 points, 1 rebound.

– Pau gets the ball in the post for the first time about three minutes in the game. After a couple dribbles, he kicked it out to Jose Calderon for a three-point attempt. After the miss, Pau grabs his second offensive rebound and puts it in with is left while being fouled. Basket counts, free throw made. 6 points, 2 rebounds.

– Pau’s second look in the post ends with a lefty hook in the lane. He’s been very patient in the paint thus far. 8 points, 2 rebounds.

– Pau’s 1st defensive laps comes with about five minutes left to play in the quarter. Poland’s Lukasz Koszarek drove the lane toward Pau who failed to step over and help, allowing a wide-open layup (cue Dallas series memories). 8 points, 2 rebounds.

– Pau gets the ball on the left block for the first time. Again, he’s very patient. With his back to the basket, he looks over his left shoulder for available cutters. With no one open, he takes one dribble and makes an awfully decisive move to drop step with his right foot and finish with the left hand off the glass. Fantastic footwork, great patience and he finished while being fouled for the second time. So far, Pau has not been double-teamed. At the 4:45 mark, Spain has 13 points, Pau has 11 of them. 11 points, 2 rebounds.

– Pau takes his first break with about 3:30 left in the first. Very solid first quarter.

2nd Quarter

– Pau re-enters game at around the 7:10 mark. 11 points, 2 rebounds.

– Pau receives a great entry pass from JCN and what appears to be an open lane to the basket. Instead of taking the layup, Pau passes the ball immediately, which results in his first turnover of the contest. 11 points, 2 rebounds.

– Pau was fouled away from the ball while trying to come off a screen to get to the weak side block. With Poland in the penalty, Pau gets to put in two more free throws. 13 points, 2 rebounds.

– Pau records his most interesting basket of the game as he brings the ball out to the perimeter with no numbers on the fast break. He gives the defender a few crossover dribbles before starting to back him down from 15-feet in. Then he picks up his dribble, gives the defender the drop step with is right again, reverses it, then goes back toward the basket to finish while he’s fouled. He misses the subsequent free throw. 15 points, 2 rebounds.

– Spain goes into the half with a 44-31 lead largely due to the efforts of Pau and Juan Carlos Navarro (11 points). Pau also finished the half with two blocks on the defensive end of the floor, where he did some nice things. Spain’s defensive philosophy revolves around getting ball handlers to the sidelines and keeping them out of the paint. For the most part, Pau is doing his job, showing on the high P&Rs, and keeping penetration at a minimum. However, I don’t recall one defensive rebound from Pau, just the two offensive boards from the first quarter. It would be nice to see him get a little more active on the glass in the second half.

3rd Quarter

– Poland goes to a zone defense to start out the second half. Pau catches the ball at the left pinch post (where he’s spent a lot of time in the Triangle), and attempts a touch pass to Marc Gasol who is on the left block. The pass is high and goes through Marc’s hands. This is Pau’s 2nd turnover by my unofficial count, both from quick passes. Considering Poland is in a zone, this might be an opportunity for Pau to take advantage of some backside rebounding. 15 points, 2 rebounds.

– Right on cue, Pau picks up his 3rd offensive rebound on Spain’s next possession. It was a long one on the back side after a Navarro three pointer. Looks as if Pau is going to be working solely in the high post as long as Poland is in a zone. Pau hasn’t even taken a step closer than 15-feet in these two possessions. 15 points, 3 rebounds.

– On the same possession, Pau gets a 2nd offensive rebound that just happened to fall into his lap right next to the basket. He puts it in immediately for the easy deuce. 17 points, 4 rebounds. Still no defensive rebounds.

4th Quarter

– Pau left about midway through the 3rd quarter with Spain holding a comfortable lead. He comes out to start the fourth with Spain only leading by nine. 17 points, 4 rebounds.

– Pau gets the ball on the left block. He turns, faces up and knocks down a smooth 12-footer. 19 points, 4 rebounds.

– Pau spots up and knocks down a three pointer. The announcers say that he has 20 points, but I have him at 22. I don’t know where I added an extra three points, or why they’re behind two, but I’m hoping to figure this out before the game ends.  22 points, 4 rebounds.

– Pau grabs his first defensive rebound that I can remember with just under eight minutes left to play in the game. 22 points, 5 rebounds.

– Pau gets the ball in the low post with an extremely undersized defender guarding him. The announcers wonder why Pau doesn’t take the ball to the basket instead of kicking it out to Rubio who ends up traveling. Pau, however, makes the right decision. There were two defenders waiting to double once Pau made his move, depending on which direction he decided to go. Even though the results don’t agree, Pau made the right decision here.

– After Poland gets the deficit down to five points, Spain goes right to Gasol, who gets fouled. He knocks down both free throws with 3:30 left to play in the game. 24 points, 5 rebounds. (In case you’re wondering, my score now matches with what the broadcast has.)

– With only a six point lead, Poland’s Thomas Kelati drives right by Pau to cut the lead to four. Another horrible display of help defense, this time in a much worse situation. Pau grabbed a defensive rebound on an earlier possession. 24 points, 6 rebounds.

– On the ensuing possession, Pau catches the ball at the three point line, straight away. He dribbles a few times between his legs while moving toward the basket. He’s fouled and heads to the free throw line. He misses the front end, makes the second. 25 points, 6 rebounds.

– After Poland cut the lead to three, Spain went right back to Pau who made himself big on the inside. Caught the ball and finished in the paint while being fouled. He knocked down the free throw. 28 points, 6 rebounds.

Pau would go on to knock down one more free throw with just a few seconds left on the clock. Overall, Pau had a great showing in Spain’s opening EuroBasket game. The thing that stuck out the most was Pau’s ability to finish with contact in the paint. Spain looked to him on possessions when a basket was crucial, and he delivered more often than he didn’t. I’d like to see Pau attack the glass more and play better help defense as this tournament goes on. There aren’t too many negative things you can say about a guy who finishes with 29 points and an unofficial six rebounds.

Phillip Barnett