Lakers may bring Pau Gasol off the bench when he returns from injury

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Pau Gasol has missed the Lakers last three games, two of which were losses, due to tendinitis in his knees.

It’s been evident watching him in the young part of this season that he doesn’t have the energy or the explosiveness necessary to give his team what is expected, so maybe the injury is the true reason behind his slow start.

But what if it isn’t, and Gasol simply can’t find his way for the second straight season in the Lakers offense?

Besides the possibility of being traded at some point, L.A. may look to mix up its lineups, and bring Gasol off the bench whenever he is ready to return to action.

From Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

The Lakers are debating whether to bring Pau Gasol off the bench when he returns from knee tendinitis, said a person familiar with the team’s thinking.

Gasol has struggled mightily this season, averaging 12.6 points and shooting only 42%, both career lows.

The Lakers are trying to decide how a demotion to the bench would affect Gasol. If they determined it would be adverse, they’d keep him in the starting lineup.

Gasol isn’t the type to pout, and it would be tough to imagine him giving any less than 100 percent playing with the second unit. And let’s not forget, even if someone comes off the bench, the rotation will dictate that he’ll play at some point with members of the starting lineup.

Whether Gasol starts or comes off the bench shouldn’t matter to him personally; he’s started in every game he’s appeared this season, yet didn’t play the entire fourth quarter in Memphis, and was held out for the final six minutes in the embarrassing loss to the Magic.

Mike D’Antoni isn’t going to be afraid to tinker with the lineups while doing everything in his power to make this stacked Lakers team into the title contender we all expected it to be.

If Gasol can adapt to playing with the second unit, and can excel in that role while doing so, he’ll be on the floor in crunch time when it counts.

Lonzo Ball finishes one-handed alley-oop on Willie Cauley-Stein (video)

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So much attention is paid to Lonzo Ball‘s father, jumper and passes. Those are the major storylines for the Lakers rookie.

But he has such a diverse skill set, and this is absolutely part of it. Ball is a savvy off-ball cutter in the halfcourt with the athleticism to get above the rim and finish alley-oops.

But finish them over 7-footer Willie Cauley-Stein, who was tracking the play (though slightly late)? That’s an eye-opener, even in the Kings’ 113-102 win.

Marc Gasol makes 3/4-court shot just after buzzer (video)

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When Marc Gasol‘s 3/4-court attempt went through the net, it seemed to barely matter the ball left his hands just after the first-quarter buzzer. After all, the Grizzlies led the Mavericks by 15, anyway.

Turns out, Memphis really needed that basket.

Watch Knicks string together 28-0 run against Raptors

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Toronto has been the second best team in the East this young season. Not that anyone is really convinced they will be called that by the time we get to the playoffs (or even the All-Star break, or even Christmas), but for the first 16-18 games of the season their new move-the-ball offense had them at 11-5 and looking solid.

Wednesday night the Knicks dismantled the Raptors.

Especially in the third quarter when the Knicks went on a 28-0 run to blow the doors off the Raptors (video above). The Knicks dominated the third 41-10, when Toronto shot just 1-of-16 from the floor.

New York is gaining confidence with each win this season, they are a fun team to watch that is starting to find an identity (now that a certain three-sided shaped one is not being forced upon them). Kristaps Porzingis is a monster, and while the Knicks overpaid the market for Tim Hardaway Jr. he has lived up to his contract this season. With rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina showing some nice defense and playmaking skills as a rookie (although he is undoubtedly still a work in progress), you can see a path to a strong future unfolding. There are real reasons for hope in New York. Someone just keep James Dolan distracted and away from the basketball operations side of the building.

Devin Booker forces OT with deep turnaround buzzer-beating 3-pointer, but Bucks beat Suns (video)

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I’m not sure who benefited from Devin Booker‘s buzzer-beating, overtime-forcing 3-pointer. The Suns still lost to the Bucks, 113-107. The extra five minutes featured more of the same relatively bad basketball we’d seen between Phoenix (bad) and Milwaukee (shorthanded) through 48 minutes.

But darn if this shot wasn’t really cool and clutch.