- Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Senior Writer
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DALLAS -- Pau Gasol remained a Laker on Tuesday after the Cleveland Cavaliers chose to deal Andrew Bynum and a package of draft picks to Chicago for Luol Deng, and for as long as they still have the 33-year-old Spaniard, the Lakers are going to get as much out of him as they can.
When Gasol is in the game these days, he's the unquestioned No. 1 option on offense. It's obvious. Maybe too obvious. Which is why the Dallas Mavericks sent multiple defenders to swarm Gasol just about every time he touched the ball Tuesday night in the Mavs' 110-97 win over the Lakers at the American Airlines Center.
The loss was the Lakers' (14-21) eighth in nine games. As the only All-Star talent on the court for the Lakers these days, expect Gasol to be defended as such from here on unless one of his teammates steps up to become a consistent offensive threat.
Gasol finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. The more telling statistic was his 5-for-14 shooting, as Dallas keyed its entire defense around stopping him.
How it happened: The Lakers closed to within 89-85 midway through the fourth quarter, but the Mavs pulled away late behind the playmaking of Ellis, Jose Calderon and Nowitzki.
What it means: At some point the Lakers are going to need to go on a little run and string together some victories if they're going to salvage this season. They're going to have to beat teams ahead of them in the standings, such as Dallas and Sunday's opponent Denver, and they're going to have to do it without Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar, too. Tuesday night was an opportunity to begin that kind of run, and once again, the Lakers could not do so.
Hits: Meeks continues to step up and carry more and more of the offensive load. Tuesday he finished with 24 points and six assists on 6-for-16 shooting. Meeks had 18 in the Lakers' win over Utah on Friday and 23 in the loss to Denver on Sunday.
Misses: Nick Young had a difficult time finding his shot Tuesday. Well, he found shots just fine. He just didn't make many of them. The Lakers' sixth man hit just 1-of-7 shots to finish with only two points. After the game, D'Antoni said Young has been dealing with a sore back the last couple of days.
Stat of the game: Three. For all the tumult and turnover in this Lakers season, Tuesday's game marked the third straight in which Mike D'Antoni has started Johnson, Gasol, Robert Sacre, Meeks and Kendall Marshall. That's noteworthy in a season D'Antoni has used 19 different starting lineups in 35 games.
Up next: The Lakers travel to Houston to play Dwight Howard and the Rockets on Wednesday night. Houston forward Chandler Parsons missed practice Tuesday and is listed as a game-time decision after injuring his knee in practice on Monday.