Bryant is still that No. 1 option of course, and is as an unmovable object as there exists in all of professional sports. It’s not just because of his tremendous value to the Lakers because of his skill set even as a 33-year-old, 16-year veteran, but because what his star power and gravitas mean to the image that Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss wants his franchise to be all about. Bryant stated several times this season that he intends to retire a Laker and won’t jump ship to chase ring No. 6 elsewhere.
Plus, he’s owed $58.3 million over the next two seasons. He’s not going anywhere.
That makes Pau the first to go. Call up Houston. Call up Chicago. Call up Minnesota. Call up Orlando. See if interest is still out there. Better yet, call up all 29 other teams and maybe even go the draft pick route. This year’s draft is widely considered the deepest in nearly a decade.
Gasol turns 32 in July. He’s played 11 years in the league plus put in a ton of time overseas playing for the Spanish national team. He averaged 12.5 points during the playoffs. History will show he was a vital piece of the Lakers’ championship lore, but now is not the time for nostalgia.
He’s the first domino. But then what?
(read the rest here)
Provided by Mike Trudell and Lakers.com
Career playoff minutes played by Kobe Bryant after another 40 in his 220th postseason contest, which ranks first among all players in NBA history.
Points for Bryant, who went out with his guns fully blazing, making 18 of 33 shots to hit the 40-point mark for the 13th time in his career. Bryant was very aggressive with his shot throughout the evening, failing to notch an assist for the first time in the playoffs and second time all season.
Second half points for Russell Westbrook (28 total), who had 23 in the second half of Game 4 and seemed to wear especially hard on L.A. in second halves throughout the series, his athleticism and explosiveness eventually finding a way through. Kevin Durant added 25 points and 10 boards.
Rebounds for Pau Gasol, who pushed through the evening at both ends, but couldn’t find the range on offense, making only 5 of 14 shots to reach 14 points. He added three of L.A.’s six blocks and two assists.
Turnovers for both teams, an improvement for L.A., who typically lost the turnover battle to the riskier Thunder. There’s a reason for that, aside from OKC taking more chances, since the Lakers focus on staying home and forcing jump shots instead of taking risks in the passing lanes.
More offensive rebounds grabbed by Oklahoma City than the Lakers, a major factor especially in the first half, when the edge was 10-2 (14-3 overall).
Personal fouls for Andrew Bynum, plagued by the whistle all evening, his third coming with more than five minutes left in the second quarter, and fourth just one minute into the third, limiting him to 34 minutes. Furthermore, when he was on the floor, Bynum was understandably more tentative than usual, trying to avoid yet another foul, which hurt the Lakers particularly on defense even as he was only 4 of 10 for 10 points on offense.
Three pointers converted by the Lakers on 11 attempts, one apiece from Metta World Peace and Bryant, two fewer than MWP himself hit in Game 4. OKC hit only 3 of 13 in the game, but Durant’s back-to-back triples at the start of the fourth quarter proved deadly, pushing the lead from six to 12.
Lakers fans will never forget what Pau has done, I can assure you that.
Unfortunately, what he’s done for us in the past doesn’t help us in the present.
the truth hurts. (via foreverla)
People I’m blaming, in order from greatest blame to least:
Dr. Buss (for not giving Jeanie more power)
Looking forward to next season though! :]
Would much rather lose a game decided on the court, than by the referees.
Might I add, the most telling quote that I heard last night after the game was Magic Johnson. We all know Magic spoke out in the Denver series saying the Mike Brown would get fired if we lost that series, and it was kind of like, “ok Magic. Chill.” Then yesterday he said this, and it was like he was speaking what all of us are thinking:
Everybody thinks I hit on coach Mike Brown. I like him, I really do. But he’s not a great in-game adjustment coach like a Phil Jackson or Pat Riely. … The Lakers never made any adjustments.
The biggest offense in Game 4 was Mike setting Pau up 20 feet away from the basket, setting picks for Steve Blake instead of down on the block. I repeat, setting picks for Steve Blake (more on this later). Everyone knows that the Lakers aren’t a p&r team. They don’t run it very well, nor do they even defend it very well.
Not to mention that the guards couldn’t even get the ball in to Andrew Bynum, who was being fronted. Not quite sure how NBA guards can’t get the ball in to a man on the post being fronted, and I really am not sure why Mike Brown doesn’t have the players swing the ball and set Bynum up on the opposite side.
As for the Steve Blake issue, why was he on the court in the fourth?? I understand you have rotations, and in late-game situations those are usually set, but Ramon Sessions was clearly the better guard for the Lakers. Early in Game 4 he routinely broke down the defense of the Thunder and got to the basket, either setting up a easy dunk/lay-up or getting one himself. Furthermore, if the Lakers ARE going to run a pick-and-roll with Pau, it’s Sessions who you should run it with, not Blake.
I won’t entirely rag on Mike Brown, because his hybrid defense worked very well against the Thunder in the first 3 quarters. But the Thunder still ended up with over 100 points, the Lakers had a very poor offensive 4th quarter, and a moral victory simply isn’t enough.
It’ll be interesting to see what adjustments Brown comes up with in a very important Game 5. I actually feel (in my heart, not in my head) that if the Lakers can somehow win Game 5, they can win the series. Silly me. Right?
Sorry to all of the followers for the lack of Game 4 updates, was pretty devasted. It’s taken all day to recuperate. (lol)
As for the answer to this question, this article by Kevin Ding is a great read.
Bryant has tired to having to prop Gasol up time and again. Bryant did it often last season in pursuit of a third consecutive title on a bad knee and before Bynum was ready, offering the compelling Natalie Portman-inspired narrative that Gasol is too often the “white swan” instead of the “black swan.” Like the movie, it didn’t end well.
This season, Bryant has still believed that Gasol can come through when it matters most. Bryant’s public request that the Lakers stop dangling Gasol in the trade market was him believing Gasol needed that support to persevere. When I was comparing the very night before the March trade deadline the emerging Bynum and Bryant to the regular one-two punch of Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant, it was Bryant who digressed to say: “We still have Pau.”
Gasol believes he’s hungry for more titles. If he really was, his baseline level of focus would be higher instead of only spiking high.
At a time in his career when Bryant needs more help and not less, this mix of talent has gone sour. Not toxic, mind you, but sour.
Championship teams find a way to win because they aren’t afraid to lose.
And in that regard, the sweet-hearted, good-intending Gasol is unfortunately the Lakers’ No. 1 problem. (source)