Pau Gasol says players saying he’s soft just talking, jealous

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When at the end of the Lakers win over the Clippers last week Pau Gasol reached out and rubbed Chris Paul’s head and Paul took offense, he turns at one point to Kobe and says, “he’s soft.”

Gasol has been hearing the soft thing since before he was drafted. From coaches, players (Kendrick Perkins, Amare Stoudemire), particularly Lakers fans. Stood up to Dwight Howard in the finals one year (Andrew Bynum was out) and fans are calling Gasol soft before training camp ends the next year. Heck, Pau probably hears it from his brother.

What does he say to all that? He doesn’t care, other guys are just talking He’s got rings. Other players are jealous.

Here is the quote, from 790 The Ticket in Miami with Dan Le Batard (via Sports Radio Interviews).

“Sometimes I believe it is guys just talking for the heck of talking. They got nothing better to say and other times I believe there is a little bit of jealousy at times, but I can’t really control what other people say. I can control what I do and what I have been doing throughout my career, which has been very successful and help my team beat better teams. That is as much as I can control and that’s what I focus 100% on, so the rest of the stuff is a couple of guys talking here or there. It does not affect me or interfere with my life.”

“Again it is something that it is brought up after three consecutive finals and two championships. Those thoughts kind of went away with the two championships, but again I play.”

I think there is a difference between being soft and having a finesse game. I don’t expect all my big men to play like Dwight Howard. Gasol is a finesse player, and he’s got better touch and moves around the post than any other big in the league. But he has some fight in him. He may not be demonstrative, but he’s got fight. Go back and watch those finals. He’s not soft. And a lot of guys are jealous.

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.