When the Lakers are clicking on offense, Pau Gasol gets early touches in the post then makes quick decisions, either attacking or setting up cutting teammates.
Tuesday night in San Antonio — and for the last couple weeks, really — neither of those things have happened. The Lakers have fallen out of the habit of having Gasol as the hub of the offense, and when they have gone to him his decisions have not been crisp.
The Lakers need to get back to those things if they are to regain their offensive form, and both Gasol and Andrew Bynum emphasized that to Yahoo.
“We need to really stay inside the system, attack teams and use the mismatches to our advantage,” Bynum said.
“We didn’t play a smart game, put it that way,” Gasol said. “ …We have to recognize what’s going on and understand what our strengths are against certain opponents, and try to exploit them.”
“It can’t be an individual effort from nobody,” Gasol added. “It has to be altogether on a string, like a family.”
Kobe’s regret about the individual effort? He didn’t hit his shots.
“I couldn’t put the ball in the basket and it snowballed from there,” Bryant said in front of his locker late Tuesday. “It’s my responsibility to make them.”
Kobe is smarter than that. He knows that the offense works better through Gasol early and him late. But Kobe wanted to drag the Lakers out of their funk and tried to kick-start them himself. It worked in one sense — Tuesday against the Spurs was the best energy the Lakers have given on the court in weeks.
But the execution is lacking. Those habits need to be relearned. And that starts with the ball going to Gasol in the post early and often.
Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.
Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.
Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:
“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”
That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)
Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.
But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.
I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.
The Pelicans starting center, Omer Asik, is injured.
Their backup center, Alexis Ajinca, is injured.
Enter Greg Smith.
Scott Kushner of The Advocate:
Smith was part of the Rockets’ 2012-13 rotation, but otherwise, he has seen limited minutes in his four-year career with Houston and Dallas. In that small sample, he has looked alright. The 6-foot-10 24-year-old uses his big frame and massive hands to catch passes and finish efficiently near the rim. He has also become more disciplined defensively.
I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the regular-season roster behind the 13 Pelicans with guaranteed salaries.
But it’s also possible New Orleans signed him just an extra preseason body. That’d beat relying too heavily on the aging Kendrick Perkins and undersized Jeff Adrien at center. Anthony Davis is the Pelicans’ best option at center with Asik and Ajinca sidelined (and maybe even with them healthy), but the biggest drawback to playing him there is the injury risk. If Davis is going to deal with the banging at center, might as well save it for games that count.
Still, even New Orleans plans to keep Smith only through the preseason, this at least gives him a chance to impress.