Gasol shares blame for Lakers' loss
LOS ANGELES -- There was plenty of blame to go around after the Los Angeles Lakers squandered a 13-point fourth quarter lead during their 103-100 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder Saturday night. Kobe Bryant hoped for more aggressiveness from the Lakers All-Star forward Pau Gasol.
"Pau's got to be more assertive," Bryant said. "He's the guy out there that we need. When he's getting the ball he's looking to pass. He's got to be aggressive. He's got to shoot the ball. He's got to drive the ball to the basket and he will in the next game."
Gasol didn't attempt a field goal in the fourth quarter and passed up perhaps his best look of the quarter with 33.9 seconds left with the game tied at 98. He threw a soft pass to Kevin Durant, who hit a 3-pointer to put the Thunder up 101-98 with 13.7 seconds left. Oklahoma City now takes a 3-1 series lead back home for Game 5 on Monday.
"It was just a bad read," Bryant said of Gasol's turnover. "It was just a bad read on Pau's part. It happens."
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What can't happen in Bryant's eyes, however, is Gasol being passive on offense when Oklahoma City's defense keys in on him and Andrew Bynum.
"He's just looking to swing the ball too much, he's just got to shoot it," Bryant said of Gasol. "We played pretty much the same way the entire game. The second half what they did was front Andrew, so when they front Andrew and in the fourth quarter they crowd me, the other guys have to be more aggressive, simple as that."
After the game, Gasol had no excuse for his key turnover but made it clear that it wasn't the difference in the game.
"It's definitely one play, one mistake, but there was a lot of mistakes in that fourth quarter and a lot of mistakes during the game," Gasol said. "Obviously if I could've gone back, maybe I could've shot it, and I would've. But it's one play -- obviously at a critical time -- but I don't feel like we lost the game on one turnover. There's plenty of bad plays or mistakes in the fourth."
Although Gasol would like to be more assertive on offense, he said he was simply trying to make the best play at the end of the game by finding the open player.
"If you look, I didn't take a shot the whole fourth quarter," Gasol said. "That's a reality, too. I always try to make the right play, I try to get in the lane, I saw the defense collapse on me and I thought I had a good look to [Metta World Peace] open at the 3-point line. It's a play that I made a bunch of times. But obviously his length helped him get that steal. I could've shot it. I could've kept dribbling and maybe posted up. I could've done something else. But I'm a guy that makes pretty good reads out there."
World Peace did his best to take the blame for Gasol's turnover after the game.
"I support him," World Peace said. "I'll take the blame for that. Maybe I should've cut. He saw me open, I should've cut. It's my fault."
While Gasol didn't attempt a shot in the final period, Bryant was 2-for-10, missing both of his 3-point attempts. Bryant said the shots he took late in the game were out of necessity with his teammates, Gasol in particular, not being aggressive enough.
"The shots that I took were tough shots," Bryant said. "I was forced to take tough shots and they didn't fall for me tonight. I made a couple, I felt like I got fouled on a couple and didn't get the whistle but still they were tough looks. So either we have to free myself up to get better looks in the fourth quarter or other guys have to be aggressive, one or the other."
Gasol, who has had to take a diminished role offensively this season behind Bryant and Bynum, said he would like to be more aggressive but simply didn't have any looks in the final quarter except for the one he wished he wouldn't have passed up.
"I am unselfish, sometimes that kind of plays against me," Gasol said. "But no looks, I really didn't have no looks all quarter long. That was a look that I had but unfortunately I made a mistake."