This is one way to make sure Gasol isn’t benched for key parts of the fourth quarter. Bench him the whole game.
Pau Gasol will not suit up for the Lakers Tuesday night in Houston due to tendinitis in both knees, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN (as well as the rest of the Lakers press contingent).
Antawn Jamison will get the start in his place. Also, Mike D’Antoni is moving Chris Duhon into the starting lineup over Darius Morris.
Gasol has struggled to find his place in D’Antoni’s offense, saying he wanted more touches in the post. He had 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting against Orlando Sunday night and for the second time this season was benched in the fourth quarter of a close game. (We should add, the Magic went on an almost immediate 12-2 run and outscored the Lakers by 16 when Gasol was on the bench.)
After that Orlando game, Kobe Bryant said Gasol needed to “put on his big boy pants” and adjust to the new system, not complain. Then he added he knew Gasol would.
But part of what has held Gasol back this season is the sore knees that have robbed him of some explosiveness and quickness up and down the court (which matters in the D’Antoni offense). A night off might do his body some good.
But Lakers fans, if Los Angeles wins don’t mistake that as a sign they need to sit Gasol. Even without him the Lakers are a vastly more talented team than the Rockets and if Dwight Howard shows up focused there is not much Houston can do. This remains about the Lakers focus and intensity. They play half-speed at times and that is not just or just about Gasol. The Lakers inconsistency is a team effort.