Kobe Bryant calls out Pau Gasol
LOS ANGELES -- For the second time in five games, Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol watched the final minutes of the fourth quarter from the sidelines. Kobe Bryant says Gasol has to take it into his own hands to change that.
"Put your big-boy pants on," Bryant said after the Lakers' 113-103 loss to the Orlando Magic on Sunday that dropped the team's record to 8-9. "Just adjust. Just adjust. You can't whine about it. You can't complain about it."
Put your big-boy pants on. Just adjust. Just adjust. You can't whine about it. You can't complain about it.” -- Kobe Bryant on Pau Gasol's struggles
Gasol was subbed out with 6:07 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Lakers up 84-83. Orlando outscored L.A. 30-19 the rest of the way. Gasol ended his night with 11 points of 4-for-11 shooting, seven rebounds, two assists and a block in 29 minutes.
"I don't get irritated," Gasol said of the benching. "I like to be out there. It's upsetting for me as a player but I won't allow it to irritate me."
It was the second time the benching occurred with Gasol's family in the building. The first time came against Marc Gasol and the Memphis Grizzlies and Gasol's father and younger brother, Adria, were at Staples Center for the game Sunday.
Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni downplayed the difficulty of getting Gasol back on track.
"Just talk to him," D'Antoni said. "There's no magic words out there. He's going to have to play. He still had 11 and seven and he's playing, but we just have to be a more dynamic team. We're slow right now. It's just athletically, we're struggling."
D'Antoni added that he didn't want to "lose Pau," but Bryant assured that would not be a problem.
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"We're not going to lose him," Bryant said. "That's just not going to happen. I've been around him long enough. I know how to deal with him."
Gasol told reporters last week that painful and persistent tendinitis in both of his knees has been limiting his athleticism. Bryant, who publicly supported Gasol last season when he was the subject of constant trade rumors, had no interest in any excuses being made by the former four-time All-Star.
"Pau has got to make some adjustments, obviously, to his game," Bryant said. "He might not be posting up as much as he likes, but he just has to adjust.
"The reality is, I've adjusted, I've never run this many screen-rolls in my entire career. But I've worked on it. I've worked on handling the ball. I've worked on coming off of screens and making plays. I'm used to being in the post much, much more but you have to adjust.
"You have to master what it is that we're trying to do here and Pau is talented enough and he's good enough to be able to do that."
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When asked if he was surprised by being left out of the action in the fourth, Gasol said: "I think we're all trying to figure it out and we're all trying to do our best to win the game. The coach makes his decisions and you got to respect that."
D'Antoni will continue to make decisions, but Bryant issued marching orders of his own.
"There's no excuses to be made, there's no whining," he said. "No putting your head down. We're here, we have the talent to make adjustments, we have to make them. Period. ...
"I'll kick everybody's ass in this locker room if that doesn't happen. That's the attitude that you have to have. Metta (World Peace) is the same way. Dwight (Howard) has that in him as well. Even though he smiles a lot, he still cares a lot about this thing. Like I said, come hell or high water, it has to get done."