Pau Gasol: Lakers need discipline

Updated: February 26, 2014, 1:05 AM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- After a three-point game at halftime turned into a 118-98 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, Los Angeles Lakers big man Pau Gasol went off during his postgame comments, blaming the team's woes on a lack of discipline.

With 12 of the Lakers' 15 players without a contract for next season and the Lakers 15 games out of a playoff spot with 25 games left to play, Gasol indirectly challenged coach Mike D'Antoni to take control of his team that the 33-year old believes is being sabotaged by selfish play.

"That's why you have to be disciplined and implement discipline, that's how you kind of make that better or make that not a factor," Gasol said when asked about the Lakers' collection of players, himself included, on expiring deals."I don't think there's a lot of discipline right now."

When asked to detail what type of discipline he was seeking, Gasol brought up another issue, pointing to D'Antoni's decision to play a small-ball lineup against the plus-sized Pacers.

"The type that will allow us to compete a little better," said Gasol after Indiana outrebounded L.A. 62-42. "I think when you have a lineup like Zach [Randolph] and Marc [Gasol] tomorrow (the Lakers finish off their two-game road back-to-back Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies), you have to match up accordingly a little bit, I think. That's just me."

Gasol wasn't done there.

"If we want to continue to play small, we have to play to that advantage and utilize more quickness," Gasol said. "But if we get outrebounded by 20 rebounds, I don't care who you are and what you do, it's not going to work. You're not going to win."

When asked specifically about the possibility of the 215-pound Wesley Johnson starting in the front court and matching up with the 260-pound Randolph, Gasol quipped, "Good luck, right?"

"You just got to be really active defensively when you're small like that and let's see what happens [Wednesday], if Wes continues to start or if we actually try to match up and utilize our size because we do have guys with size that can do well," Gasol said, undoubtedly referring to Chris Kaman and Robert Sacre, who combined to play just 20 minutes against Indiana.

D'Antoni, who said at shootaround Tuesday morning, "if we just match up with [the Pacers], they're going to kick our butts," also noted he was inspired by Phoenix going 2-0 against Indiana this season while playing a smaller lineup.

The coach shrugged off the significance of the rebounding disparity after the game.

"It absolutely means nothing," D'Antoni said. "We didn't play well enough. We just didn't move the ball. We tried to go one-on-one."

That's actually something Gasol and D'Antoni agreed on, as the 13-year veteran also harped on the lack of ball movement.

"There's just too many individual actions right now," Gasol said. "It's really not a good flow and rhythm out there. You get two guys that are just coming in brand new and they're playing a lot of minutes, so, that's going to take some time for the team and the units to kind of understand each other and be on the same page.

"As long as we hustle, then we give ourselves an opportunity. And we got to be unselfish. If we see a teammate open, we have to make sure that guy gets the ball. Otherwise, it's really deflating. It takes a lot of energy away from individuals."

Kent Bazemore and MarShon Brooks, acquired from Golden State last week prior to the trade deadline, combined to shoot 12-for-29 from the floor against the Pacers. The other nine Lakers players to get in the game took 61 shots total. Point guard Kendall Marshall also voiced his frustration.

"When you're not moving the ball on offense and you're giving up on defense, it's kind of disheartening," Marshall said.

As far as disciplinarians go, Kobe Bryant embraces that role, saying earlier this month after missing the team's road trip through Minnesota, Cleveland and Philadelphia, "it's like when big brother is not around, you start doing crazy [stuff]," but Bryant is also skipping the team's current road trip to rehabilitate his fractured left knee, as is fellow 18-year veteran Steve Nash because of nerve-root irritation in his back and hamstrings. Gasol said that the onus isn't on Bryant to be the one policing the players anyway, regardless if he is good at it or not.

"I wouldn't put that responsibility on him," Gasol said. "I'm sure he's frustrated with his situation and his injury. It would always help and be a positive influence, but I don't think he has to be the one implementing the discipline."

And after the Lakers lost for the 25th time in their last 31 games, Bryant, out since Dec. 17, wasn't weighing in, instead checking in on Twitter after the Indiana game Tuesday night to announce an endorsement opportunity with leading computer manufacturer Lenovo.

Gasol said he was taking a simple approach in how he is coping with all of the defeats.

"One day at a time," Gasol said. "Making sure I keep myself cool."

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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