Pau Gasol Unhappy With Crunch Time Benching

by December 19, 2012

Following an eight-game absence due to knee tendinitis in both joints, Pau Gasol returned to the Los Angeles Lakers’ lineup last night. He helped lead them to a close win over the visiting Charlotte Bobcats, but Gasol was less-than-pleased with head coach Mike D’Antoni’s decision to yank him late in the contest. Per the LA Daily News and OC Register: ““Hopefully it won’t happen too often,’ Gasol said. ‘When the game is on the line, I need to be on the court. That’s what I get paid to do.’ Gasol gets paid plenty. He’s earning $38.3 million for the next two seasons. Yet, the Lakers have reduced Gasol’s role to the equivalent of a role player. Lakers’ Coach Mike D’Antoni didn’t explain his benching that way. Instead, he explained it by questioning Gasol’s fatigue level. ‘I’m happy for Pau, it’s his first time back, the first five-eight minutes of each half he was really good, then he kind of went downhill when he got tired,’ D’Antoni said. Gasol’s 10 points on three of 10 shooting looks glamorous. His timing looked off. Gasol missed easy jumpers. Even though he spent a good portion playing at center without Dwight Howard in the lineup, Gasol struggled receiving easy looks. Yet, Gasol also posted nine, five assists and presented a whole bunch of sequences that epitomizes his versatility […] The Lakers’ coach said after this game it should not happen too often. D’Antoni said it happened tonight ‘only because he’s coming back’ from knee tendinitis and seemed to get tired in both halves. D’Antoni obviously is comfortable playing one big and four shooters, with Gasol’s main post minutes coming when Dwight Howard is resting, but D’Antoni said tonight he ‘was happy for Pau’ to come back and have a good game.”