In the eight games Pau Gasol sat out resting knee tendonitis, the Lakers went 3-5 and looked sloppy most of the time — their defensive rotations sagged to the point of nonexistent and on offense no Gasol (and Steve Nash) meant the ball more in Kobe Bryant’s hands. Which meant more Kobe Bryant shots.
We’ll see how much that changes when Pau Gasol returns to the lineup Tuesday night. As was expected, Mike D’Antoni made it official on Tuesday at shootaround, according to Lakers reporter Mike Trudell.
Mike D’Antoni says @paugasol will start tonight. He responded well to practice yesterday. LAL were 3-5 w/out Gasol.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) December 18, 2012
While there are plenty of questions about how well Gasol fits in D’Antonni’s system — he is not a classic stretch four by any means — it was impossible to judge with pre-rest Gasol. His knees were making him a step slow, he was missing bunnies at the rim all the time and you almost never saw multiple efforts out of him on a play.
If his knees are back, then we can see how Gasol fits the system. The Lakers clearly missed his passing, his length and defense inside and his rebounding. He’s also an unselfish player and the Lakers could use that balance on the floor.
The Lakers play Tuesday against the Bobcats, then are off until a Saturday game in Golden State, allowing time for Gasol to recover. Then the Lakers play the Knicks on Christmas day in a nationally televised game.
The Lakers may have Nash back for those last two games as well, he is targeting a Saturday return.