The Los Angeles Lakers have won five of their last six games and head to the Barclay’s Center for tomorrow’s matchup with the Brooklyn Nets. The wins haven’t been pretty but the Lakers have managed to secure wins over Utah, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Minnesota, and Detroit. Los Angeles has got into the bad habit of jumping out to double-digit leads and allowing the opponent to get back into the game. With Dwight Howard having missed the last two games and questionable for tomorrow’s game, Pau Gasol has quietly become one of the keys to the Lakers recent success.
Gasol has started the past two games at center in place of Howard and has been the leading scorer in both games. Gasol has increased his level of play since returning to the court on January 17 after missing the previous five games due to a concussion. In the last 10 games, Gasol is averaging 16.2 points (shooting 55% from the field), 7.4 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game. The Spaniard posted a double-double in yesterday’s win over Detroit with 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Despite playing in a system that doesn’t maximize his potential, Gasol has settled into his role nicely. Because of his positioning on the floor as the “stretch four” on offense, Gasol has taken an increased amount of attempts from 18 feet and beyond. However, Gasol has played efficient basketball in the past two games as he played a majority of his minutes at center, allowing him to play deep in the post and getting better looks at the basket. It’s no secret that Gasol is at his best playing at the five spot, but Dwight Howard prevents him from doing so.
Today GM Mitch Kupchak told Newsday “We have no intention of making a trade.” If he is to be believed, the Lakers are locked into their current roster. That means Mike D’Antoni has to find a way to utilize Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol to get the most out of them. The Lakers will face a team with good size in Brooklyn tomorrow and Dwight Howard will be a game-time decision. Gasol will have his hands full matched up against Brook Lopez, Andray Blatche, Kris Humphries, and Reggie Evans. It will be a huge test for the Lakers and Pau Gasol will need to have another big game to leave the Barclay’s Center with a W.
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