Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Bryant tells Gasol to be more aggressive
By Dave McMenamin
LOS ANGELES -- At Monday's Lakers practice, a day after Kobe Bryant took 10 consecutive shots on his own down the stretch of Los Angeles' 109-96 loss to the rival Boston Celtics, Lakers forward Pau Gasol was asked if he was going to talk to Bryant about shooting less.
Turns out Bryant beat him to the punch, approaching Gasol in private sometime between the Celtics loss and the Lakers' 114-106 overtime win over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday to implore the Lakers big man to play like him and shoot more.
"When I'm out there being aggressive and doing my thing, he needs to follow suit and just be just as aggressive which is hard for him because it's kind of against his nature. But I think tonight was a good step," Bryant said.
"Even when he was in Memphis and he was the go-to guy, he was always very nice. Very white swan. I need him to be black swan."
Gasol, who filled in at center for Andrew Bynum, who sat out with a bone bruise in his left knee, scored 26 points and was 10-of-20 from the field and 6-of-6 from the foul line, while also amassing four blocks. It was the first time in 43 games -- Nov. 5 against Toronto -- that Gasol took 20 field goal attempts or more and just the third time all season (all three times resulting in Lakers wins).
"I just got to be more aggressive; I got to get more involved offensively," Gasol said on the three-year anniversary of his trade to the Lakers from the Grizzlies on Feb. 1, 2008. "Otherwise, if I'm not involved I can't produce and I can't maximize my talent. So, I got to stay aggressive for all the time that I'm out there ... and understand that the team needs me to be more aggressive too."
The gesture of the 13-time All-Star seeking out the three-time All-Star was appreciated by Gasol.
"It was positive," Gasol said. "It definitely had a very positive effect on me that he approached me and he let me know, 'Look, it starts with us. I'll go, but you got to go too.'"
Bryant and Gasol have made three straight trips to the Finals since the Spaniard arrived in L.A. As much as Gasol has helped Bryant's team, Bryant wants to help Gasol's individual game.
"That will take our game to a whole 'nother level," Bryant said. "He's capable of doing it, so now it's just about it kind of having it become more of a habit for him. But I mean, he's just an easy-going, selfless player that just makes passes when they're there and takes shots as they come to him but sometimes you just got to go get it. I love to see that from him. Tonight he did that and I think it's a good step."
Bryant scored 32 points. It was the fifth time all season that Gasol and Bryant both scored 25 points or more in the same game. The Lakers are 4-1 when that happens.
"That will take his game to a whole 'nother level, just continuing to be aggressive, and ours as well because ultimately the goal is to try and win a championship," Bryant reiterated. "So, everything that I communicate, every message that we talk about within the team is all about that goal."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter. 710 ESPN's Beto Duran contributed to this report.