I touched on Pau Gasol’s disappearing act in Game one earlier this week and expected him to be the focal point of Game two yesterday. Not quite sure how to say this other than, “Pau Gasol has disappeared”. The seven-foot Spaniard seemed hesitant and completely lacking in any confidence on his way to a disappointing eight points and five rebounds on 2 for 10 shooting from the field. The Lakers also saw a quiet performance from Kobe Bryant who was more like an a witchetty grub than the Black Mamba he’s so often referred. But, like all champion teams the Lakers got the win they needed and head to New Orleans looking to take control of the series. The Lakers have enjoyed an average winning margin of 10.5 this season in “‘Nawlins” so they will have confidence in their chances.
But let’s get back to Pau, as there has to be more to this than just the head clash in Game one. I personally hope everything’s OK off the court as distractions with family etc are always difficult. But if it is simply an on court funk then Gasol needs to make some serious adjustments before Game three. Over the past two years Pau has improved dramatically in his ability to make not only outside shots but also tough interior plays. While he’s always going to be a finesse player over a “banger”, his physicality has definitely increased over this time. What seems to have happened here in this Playoff series is Pau is either waiting for someone else to lead or he has simply lost confidence in what he does. How so? I ask myself.
I look at Dirk Nowitzki for example and not for a second do I consider him “hard” or “bad arse”. I do however respect his offensive game and see why people rate him so highly. It is the same with Pau but on a much higher level for mine. Gasol has the ability to play with deft touch from 12-18 feet, passes amazingly for a man his size, blocks his fair share of shots, (130 this season) can finish at the hoop with either power or finesse and provides the perfect compliment to Andrew Bynum, Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom’s skill sets.
Ok, what does that have to do with Dirk you might ask? Well, Mr Nowitzki has grabbed his first two Playoff games this season by the balls and declared leadership of his team. Dirk has not shied away from any shot at any moment and quite frankly looks to be on a mission to re-claim the title his Dallas Mavericks choked away in 2006. This is the same attitude I expected from Pau Gasol in these Playoffs. I expected the Lakers to at least make the NBA Finals and with Gasol in full “eff you” overdrive I wanted him to challenge all-comers for Finals MVP consideration; win or lose.
There is not one NBA fan watching the Playoffs this season wondering what Dirk is doing or where his mind is at. He is setting about “Charlie Sheen-ing” his way to the Finals by #winning, and at any cost. Pau, you’re currently lost and while I respect your game the only thing anyone is asking at the moment when referring to you is…
It’s time to come out of hiding.