Gasol (and the Lakers’ lazy approach to defense) took much of the blame for the Hornets’ stunning win in the series opener, but Kobe is sure that Pau will be an entirely different player next time these teams face off. From Yahoo!: “And yet when someone wanted to know if the Lakers would have benefitted from better distribution of their shots – or, say, fewer from Kobe – Bryant made this point unmistakably clear: ‘If the effort isn’t there,’ he said, ‘I’m not going to sit around and wait, especially in the playoffs.’ What he meant: I’m not waiting on Pau. Nor should he. More than anyone, this loss falls on the shoulders of Pau Gasol. With the Hornets having lost forward David West, their second-best player, to a season-ending knee injury, the Lakers walked into this series with a huge size advantage. Emeka Okafor didn’t stay on the floor long enough to make an impact because of foul trouble, further limiting New Orleans’ interior presence to 6-foot-9 forward Carl Landry, Gray and Jason Smith, a jump-shooting 7-footer. The Lakers’ three-man rotation at the two big positions – Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum – spans nearly 21 feet and $40 million. And through a combination of Paul’s penetrating drives and L.A.’s defensive indifference, the Hornets outscored the Lakers 52-34 in the paint. Gasol took just nine shots to Bryant’s 26, making only two. He didn’t fight for position under the basket. He didn’t demand the ball. He didn’t grab a single offensive rebound. He floated. Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins called Gasol soft a month ago, and there was no refuting that on Sunday in the Lakers’ 109-100 loss. Gasol played the part and looked it too, leaving the arena with a bandage under his left eye that covered a gash DJ Mbenga had opened. ‘It’s up to me to get myself going, be more aggressive, get myself into rhythm,’ Gasol said. Someone asked if Odom also needed to hike his scoring, and Bryant made clear that wasn’t the problem. ‘Pau is our guy,’ he said. ‘He’s next in line and gets the responsibility that comes with it … He’s not naturally aggressive,’ Bryant said. ‘Even if I’m tired, I’m naturally aggressive. You just have to rev him up a little bit, get him going.'”
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