Kobe Bryant Demanding More Aggression from Pau Gasol in Game 5

The Los Angeles Lakers are facing elimination in OKC tonight, and as always, are embroidered in internal team drama. After basically blaming Pau Gasol for the crushing Game 4 loss — leading many in Laker Nation to believe the partnership had at last reached its breaking point — Kobe Bryant expects the big man to look for his shot more. From the LA Times: “Their veteran star is exhausted and annoyed. Their kid center is angry and distant. Their power forward is uncertain and embattled. And their season is officially on the brink after they blew a 13-point lead in a 103-100 loss to Oklahoma City on Saturday in the fourth and perhaps deciding game of their first-round playoff series. Two games after they blew a seven-point lead in the final two minutes in a Game 2 loss, this time they were outscored by 10 in the final six minutes in front of a Staples Center crowd that was stunned into a collective gasp. The Lakers now fall behind the Thunder three games to one while falling into the trap of many failing teams. Fingers are now officially being pointed. […] Start with Pau Gasol. Everyone is mad at Pau Gasol. His 10-point, three-turnover night was capped Saturday when he threw away a pass on what could have been the game-winning possession. ‘Pau has got to be more assertive; he’s got to be more aggressive,’ Bryant said. ‘He’s looking to swing the ball too much. He just has to shoot it.’ Gasol took full blame for the pass: ‘I could have shot it at that point, and if I could go back, I would have.’ But Gasol refused to take blame for the loss. ‘It was one play, one mistake,’ he said, ‘but there were a lot of mistakes in the quarter, a lot of mistakes in the game.’ Bryant needs to shoulder some of the blame for the fourth quarter, as some of those shots were early in the shot clock and completely unnecessary, balls that flew to the rim while Andrew Bynum stood helplessly watching. Bynum, who took just two shots in the fourth quarter and made only two baskets in the second half, is also mad at teammates. He didn’t name names, but you can probably guess that he’s not thrilled with Bryant, who took 10 of the Lakers’ 22 fourth-quarter shots. ‘I couldn’t get the ball. I wasn’t part of the game,’ Bynum said. ‘We need to slow down the game, go side to side. We can cut them to pieces. You can’t keep running the same plays.’ When asked if the Lakers practice getting him the ball, he shrugged: ‘Yeah, but once the game starts, everything changes. It should be simple. I don’t know why it’s hard for us.'”