Phil Jackson loves to needle Pau Gasol


He can’t help himself. It would be pretty hard to get on Pau Gasol for his play the first week of the season — he was named Western Conference Player of the Week for good reason. Averaged 25 and 10 on 52 percent shooting and threw in five dimes a game just for fun.

But there was Phil Jackson yesterday, needle in hand, poking Gasol as his brother Marc and the Memphis Grizzlies come to town, all recorded by the Los Angeles Times.

“It’s been very hard on him,” Jackson said of past battles in the post between the brothers. “A lot of times we say we traded the wrong guy and tell him that Marc is a tougher, more powerful player than he is. [Marc] doesn’t have the shooting touch yet, but his defense, his rebounding is very good. He gets a kick out of playing against Pau. He’s actually a little more physical than Pau is. I like to bring it to [Pau’s] awareness.” 

Jackson is pretty good about knowing who he can needle. Some guys take it better than others. Pau is about as mature and confident in himself as any player there is. Jackson’s comments roll off like water on a duck’s back.

“I don’t think he believes that, but obviously he’s always picking,” said Gasol. “He’s always trying to have a good time, and we have fun playing around with each other.”

Jackson’s needling always comes with a message. In this case: Tonight you need to toughen up. But did anyone doubt Pau already knew that? Still, Jackson can’t help himself.

Stan Van Gundy rips ‘selfish’ Pistons

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The Pistons had just 19 assists – to 22 turnovers – in their 93-83 loss to the Nets last night.

Stan Van Gundy was none too pleased.

On offensive problems:

I told them in there – that was the first thing – we’re not playing together at all. I thought it was a very selfish performance, and guys wouldn’t just pass the ball to open men. They wanted to see if they could take one more dribble to get their own shot, so the passing angles were gone. I just thought we forced play after play after play. We’re not willing to move the ball

On Reggie Jackson, who scored seven points on 3-of-10 shooting with six assists and six turnovers, and was coming off Achilles soreness:

He was not good at all. He was forcing everything.

On injuries to point guards – Jackson, Brandon Jennings and Steve Blake – hindering the team’s flow in practice and that carrying over to the game:

We could probably make a lot of excuses for our guys, but we were selfish.

Van Gundy is clearly trying to send a message, and the preseason is the best time to do it.

But it’s somewhat troubling he had to do it after this game.

Eight of the 10 Pistons who played against Brooklyn project to make the regular-season rotation. Joel Anthony played over Aron Baynes, and once healthy, Blake could challenge Spencer Dinwiddie to become back up point guard – at least until Jennings is ready. Otherwise, Detroit – with Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Ersan Ilyasova, Andre Drummond, Jodie Meeks, Stanley Johnson and Anthony Tolliver – looked similar to its opening-night lineup.

Van Gundy is blunt, but he doesn’t tell the media things he hasn’t already directly told his players. They appreciate that.

He’d appreciate them getting this message.

Report: Dwight Howard didn’t have offseason surgery

Dwight Howard
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Dwight Howard said he played with a torn MCL and meniscus in the Western Conference finals – pretty shocking news that few knew what to make of.

So, um, did he have offseason surgery?

Calvin Watkins of ESPN:

Howard obviously feels great about his health now, so maybe this was the right course.

We’ll never how Howard would have performed if fully healthy, but he averaged 14.4 points and 14.4 rebounds in 35.1 minutes per game against the Warriors during the conference finals. How bad could the injuries have been?