Pau Gasol has been somewhat of a scapegoat for Kobe Bryant when things haven’t gone well for the Lakers.
Bryant has targeted Gasol with public criticism from time to time since the big man joined Los Angeles in 2008, so perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised to see it happen again following the Lakers’ Game 4 loss to the Thunder on Saturday.
Gasol’s turnover late in the fourth quarter resulted in Kevin Durant knocking down a game-winning 3-pointer with 13.7 seconds left to give the Thunder a 3-1 series edge. After the defeat, Bryant threw some blame in Gasol’s direction.
“Pau’s got to be more assertive,” Bryant said. “He’s the guy they’re leaving [open]. When he’s catching the ball, he’s looking to pass. He’s got to be aggressive. He’s got to shoot the ball or drive the ball to the basket. He will be next game.”
Bryant, who noted the turnover was a bad play on Gasol’s part, also thought Gasol didn’t attack the basket enough when Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka wandered off him to help out against Andrew Bynum.
“He’s looking to swing the ball too much,” Bryant said. “He’s got to take his shot.”
Gasol has been inconsistent, but he’s not ready to shoulder all of the blame, which was evident by his postgame comments.
“It’s one play, one mistake,” Gasol said of his turnover at the end of Game 4. “There were a lot of mistakes in that fourth quarter, a lot of mistakes throughout the game. So, obviously, if I could have gone back, maybe I could have shot it and I would have. It’s one play, obviously, at a critical time, but I don’t feel like we lost the game because of one turnover.”
The Lakers are now one loss away from calling it a season. The Thunder will look to close them out in Oklahoma City on Monday.
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