From Drew Garrison, Silver Screen & Roll: Pau Gasol made his return to the Lakers starting lineup after missing time since December 2nd, having to tend to tendinitis in both of his knees. How did his night play out? 10 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 4 blocks as the Lakers fought back from an 18 point deficit and defeated the Charlotte Bobcats. But, again, how did he look? In part one of our Pau Gasol breakdown from Tuesday’s victory over the Bobcats we’ll be taking a look at the work Gasol did in the Lakers’ half court sets. With many questioning how Gasol can fit into Mike D’Antoni’s “system”, Pau will need to acclimate himself to playing in the system quickly as the Lakers need their talented big man to help steady the choppy waters they’ve been riding to start the season.
From Arash Markazi, ESPN Los Angeles: Don’t look to Mike D’Antoni for any answers when it comes to fixing the Los Angeles Lakers. You can certainly ask him; just don’t expect to get much of a response. Not yet anyway. Moments after streamers came down onto the court at Staples Center as the Lakers celebrated a 101-100 win over the Charlotte Bobcats – a game in which they were behind by as many as 18 points in the third quarter — D’Antoni could only smile as he sat in front of a room full of speechless reporters. “It’s hard to ask questions, I know,” D’Antoni said. “I feel for you. I don’t know what to answer and I don’t think you guys know what to ask but I think we’ll try.” That seems to be D’Antoni’s philosophy when it comes to figuring out the Lakers as well. He might not know the answers but he’s certainly trying to find them. Coaches normally hate lineup and rotation questions. They’ll tell you they aren’t looking to change anything and if they do, well, you’ll be the last to find out. D’Antoni, on the other hand, nodded his head Tuesday night whenever he was asked about a player changing his role with the team. Whether that’s Metta World Peace coming off the bench, as he did Tuesday, Jodie Meeks becoming the starting shooting guard, Kobe Bryant moving to small forward or Antawn Jamison and Jordan Hill being taken out of the rotation. Everything is seemingly on the table at the moment and few things, if any, are set in stone.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: The list of Lakers teammates challenged in one way or another by Kobe Bryant over the years is longer than the Christmas wish list of the most spoiled kid in Beverly Hills. Aside from the epic feud with Shaquille O’Neal, you know all about Bryant’s ongoing venom toward Smush Parker and head-shaking disdain for Kwame Brown. Even trusted longtime teammates such as Pau Gasolstill get their buttons pushed every other day. The guys who get tested the most, though, because they get uniquely scrutinized about not doing what he would be doing, are Bryant’s backups. Maybe it dates back in some way to how O’Neal would delineate the roster clearly along size lines – the bigs belonging to him and the smalls left to Bryant. A lot of guys also are tentative when joining a team on which Bryant is expected by the whole world to take all the shots, so Bryant’s backups especially need to prove their hunger if he’s going to cede some of his turf. Much like his predecessor, Shannon Brown, Jodie Meeks needed initial encouragement from Bryant to let loose and do what he does best.
From Ben Bolch, LA Times: Is Mike D’Antoni trying to break up the Lakers’ power couple? The Lakers coach played Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol together sparingly Tuesday against the Charlotte Bobcats, and the big men were not on the court at the same time at any point in the fourth quarter. A review of the play-by-play showed that Howard and Gasol played together a total of 16 minutes 30 seconds in Gasol’s first game back after a two-week absence due to knee tendinitis. It’s not exactly a twin towers approach. “It’s our job to figure out a way for them to play together because they’re both really good,” D’Antoni said after the Lakers’ 101-100 victory at Staples Center. “We could have two 7-footers and have something that people don’t have. “We got to figure that out, and as Pau gets more comfortable and in shape, we will figure it out to a certain extent. I don’t know how much. I think they can coexist.” D’Antoni has long preferred to use smaller, quicker lineups as part of his up-tempo offense. He did it Tuesday by using the 6-foot-7 Metta World Peace at power forward off the bench, with Gasol shifting from power forward to center when Howard was out of the game. Howard logged 35 minutes to Gasol’s 29, with the duo together on the floor for only 4:04 in the second half.
From Ryan Ward, Lakers Nation: One of the glaring problems for the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2012-13 NBA season thus far has been on the defensive end of the floor. The Lakers currently are among the league’s best in scoring, putting up 102.0 points per game and dominate the glass with 46.0 rebounds per contest, but give up 99.3 points to opponents (21st in the NBA) on a nightly basis. Obviously, giving up almost 100 points a night is a problem that needs to be corrected by a team with three of the league’s best defenders in Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace. Even though Bryant and World Peace are on the backend of their careers in the league and Howard is still trying to get back to form after off-season back surgery, there’s no excuse for the Lakers’ defensive problems this season as they should be playing much better on that end of the floor. Before helping the Lakers win a third consecutive game in hard-fought battle against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday night, Howard talked about Steve Nash’s return to the floor and how the veteran’s presence will help the team defensively.