Los Angeles Lakers: Juan Carlos Navarro

Spain beats France, wins European Championships

September, 18, 2011
9/18/11
10:59
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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If you missed the game, catch the replay here.

Just want to read about it? Mark Woods has a great feature for ESPN.com, detailing a true team effort for the Spanish national team in a tournament full of them. Spain was the best team in the competition, with more skill and depth than any other nation. They were supposed to win, but winning when it's expected isn't always the easiest thing in the world.

While he wasn't named EuroBasket MVP, that honor went to Juan Carlos Navarro, who blew up in the semifinal against Macedonia for 35 and scored another 27 points against the French, Pau Gasol's time in Lithuania was well spent. His line in the final was a rock-solid 17 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and three blocks over 27 minutes of play, matching quality work throughout the tournament. Pau averaged 20.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, shot about 53 percent, including almost 64 percent from downtown. He was a force for the Spanish from start to finish, putting up quality numbers while respecting what (at least to me, watching on the Internet) felt like a very strong egalitarian ethic to the team.

Most important, this Gasol bore no resemblance to the version taking the floor last spring in the NBA playoffs, looking instead like the player Lakers fans had grown to love. It won't be enough to erase all the bad memories -- questions of one sort or another will dog him until next year's playoffs, no matter how well he plays this season -- but as we've discussed, whether on the blog, the podcast, or The Triangle, the confidence others feel regarding Pau isn't nearly as important as the confidence he feels in himself.

In that regard, he seems just fine. Not that I expected anything else.

Spain advances to Eurobasket Finals

September, 16, 2011
9/16/11
6:20
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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It wasn't exactly easy, but Spain managed Friday to squeak past tournament Cinderella Macedonia, simultaneously putting them in the Finals of the European Championships against France, and earning a berth in the 2012 London Olympics.


Janek Skarzynski/Getty Images
Pau Gasol and Spain are rolling to the Eurobasket Final.


Two wins for the price of one, really.

As has periodically been the case throughout the event, the Spanish struggled at times, as Macedonia erased an eight point deficit after one to lead by a point at the break. In the third quarter, though, the talent disparity between the two nations finally reared its head. Spain won the quarter by 10, and held Macedonia at arms length the rest of the way. Juan Carlos Navarro was the star, hitting five of his nine 3-point attempts and 13-23 overall en route to 35 points.

As it was in Spain's quarterfinal win over Slovenia, Pau Gasol wasn't as efficient as he's been from the floor through many games in the tournament, hitting eight of 20 shots from the floor, but still finished with a very solid 22 points and once again hit the glass hard. Pau grabbed a game high 17 boards, a full 36 percent of Spain's total as a team, and added three assists and a pair of steals.

While from a scoring standpoint at least, the night clearly belonged to Navarro, who blew up for 25 in the third and fourth quarters, Gasol had 13 points after the break, helping Spain pull away. It was another in a solid string of games for Pau, which, not that L.A. doesn't love itself some Juan Carlos Navarro, is really all Lakers fans are looking for.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Kobe Bryant
PTS AST STL MIN
24.6 4.9 1.4 35.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Hill 8.3
AssistsK. Bryant 4.9
StealsR. Price 1.4
BlocksE. Davis 1.2