Pau Gasol Shines In Debut, Lakers Win Easily Over Chicago

Pau Gasol notched 24 points and 13 rebounds in his season debut, leading the Lakers to a 108-93 win over the Bulls.

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Gasol Sparks Lakers To Blowout Win Over Bulls In Season Debut

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – Pau Gasol sparkled in his season debut by scoring 24 points and pulling down 13 rebounds, as the Los Angeles Lakers ran past the Chicago Bulls, 108-93, at Staples Center.

Gasol, who missed the first 11 games of the year with a strained right hamstring, shot 9-of-15 from the floor as the Lakers won their second in a row.

“I had a lot of fun playing again,” said Gasol. “It was a pleasure. I wasn’t expecting to be as effective as I was tonight. I’m a little sore, but I’m happy.”

Kobe Bryant contributed 21 points, nine rebounds and eight assists and also moved into second-place on the Los Angeles Lakers’ franchise all-time scoring list. Bryant has 24,182 points, passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (24,176) into second place. Jerry West (25,192) is in first place.

Derrick Rose scored 20 and had six assists for the Bulls, who had a two-game winning streak snapped. John Salmons added 18 points and Brad Miller 15 in defeat. Joakim Noah finished with 12 points, 15 rebounds and four steals.

“They’ve got a lot of weapons,” Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro said of the Lakers. “We missed easy shots early. They’re long and that gives you lots of problems. They don’t only have length, they have talent.”

Gasol had 10 points in the first quarter, when the Lakers asserted themselves by moving ahead to a 25-19 lead after 12 minutes. They scored the final six of the quarter and then used an 8-1 spurt in the second for a 45-33 advantage. Ron Artest highlighted that spurt with a three-pointer.

The Lakers were ahead 53-42 at the half and led by double digits the rest of the game. Derek Fisher’s jumper extended the margin to 61-42, and an Artest three in the final minute pushed the advantage to 84-64 . “I thought we played a really decent game and it was nice to have Pau back on the floor. I liked the combinations and the rotation was pretty good,” said Lakers coach Phil Jackson.

Kirk Hinrich nailed a shot from beyond the arc for the Bulls to represent the final points of the stanza, but LA netted the first seven of the fourth for a commanding 91-67 cushion.

The Bulls have dropped five straight to the Lakers, with their last win coming on December 19, 2006 in Chicago. The Bulls have lost 11 of their last 13 on the road to the Lakers…Chicago continues its six-game circus road trip with a game at Denver Saturday night…The Lakers, who are in a stretch of playing 11 of 12 games at home, host Oklahoma City Sunday…Artest had 15 points, Fisher 12 and Andrew Bynum 11 for LA.

Via Sports Network

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What To Expect With Pau Gasol Returning

Over at SB Nation’s Lakers blog, Silver Screen and Roll, the Lakers fans are reading Gasol’s signals and feeling pretty optimistic about his prognosis for the immediate and distant future:

Throughout this extended process, Gasol’s candor regarding his frustration with the injury has been very transparent. Rarely do players express their disappointment, frustration, and honest concern and worry regarding injuries that are classified as “day-to-day,” the way Gasol did. He wasn’t just frustrated — he freely admitted to being upset, antsy, angry, depressed, and more than a little worried. He repeatedly expressed that we should be very concerned by the way the injury was sticking around.

Doctors may not have agreed, but if nothing more, it was a pretty clear indicator of how close to coming back Gasol was not.

As of last night’s interview, that has completely changed. Gasol was upbeat, hopeful, and optimistic, and clearly excited to be returning to the court very soon. Coming from someone who was so hesitant to express any sort of optimism before, and who has stated more than once that his intent is to be very cautious and take it very slow, this can probably be taken as a sign that this ordeal really is ending, and that his impending return will be not only soon, but also safe.

As for his impact on the court, True Hoop’s excellent Forum Blue and Gold provides insight:

With Gasol back Kobe will get his shots in a different way …

He’ll set up more at the top of the key and the wing. He’ll be forced to take more jumpers and it’s very possible we’ll see an uptick in his 3pt FG attempts. That said, he seems very intent on getting shots closer to the basket so I think Pau’s return will mean that Kobe will likely use the other motions of the offense to still get the shots that he likes at the elbow, mid post, and at the free throw line area. I mean he can still utilize the curl from the weakside to get his middle lane jumper. He can still get to the mid post on the weak side off of the rub cut/hand off after the post man flashes to the elbow and the passer circles off him. And with Pau back, these chances will be more easily executed from a spacing and passing perspective because of Pau’s ability to pass out of the post and draw defenders attention when he’s on the floor.

Bynum has also been a force this early season, and the Lakers can’t go away from him. However, the number of touches he gets likely will drop, and the question becomes how he deals with that. For Bynum, and Kobe, it’s all mental.

[…]

Simply put, the Lakers are 17th in the Association right now in offensive efficiency, a sign not of their talent but the execution of the offense to get the shots they want. The return of Pau should start to return some spacing and movement to the offense that has been lacking. And when that happens, better shots will follow. And when that happens, suddenly we may start to see the Lakers we remember from last season.

What’s interesting for the Lakers—and probably maddening for their opponents—is that they have such a staggering array of talent that they can win games while they still figure this out. Like, my favorite team is the Washington Wizards. While we’ve grappled with identity issues on offense, it’s been a morbid tumble to 3 wins and 9 losses. Not fun for anyone.

In Los Angeles, on the other hand, despite ostensible “execution” struggles, they’re sitting pretty at 8-3, and about to get their All-Star center back. Do you ever wonder why people hate the Lakers? Let's see: They also play in Los Angeles, where the weather is perfect all year round … they're surrounded by beautiful women and celebrities … have the coolest coach in the league … the most dominant player of the decade … traded Kwame Brown for Gasol … the NBA gives them countless scheduling advantages … Good lord.

Sometimes life is just horribly unfair.

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Pau Gasol To Make His Season Debut Thursday

Fresh off his acting debut on CSI Miami, Pau Gasol will also make his season debut Thursday when the Lakers play the Chicago Bulls, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The all-star forward had missed the season's first 11 games and most of the preseason with a strained hamstring. 

Gasol is expected to return Thursday against the Chicago Bulls after sitting out 11 games because of a strained right hamstring.

"Sounds good to me," he said Tuesday.

The Lakers' forward-center shot with the team at Tuesday morning's shoot-around and reported only a small amount of pain.

"A little sore here and there, but the good thing is the hamstring has responded well," he said. "It's really promising."

Leave it to Phil Jackson, though, to have a little fun at his star's expense.  When asked about Gasol's appearance on CSI Miami, Jackson joked that it was what caused Gasol's injury in the first place.

"I think he got injured on CSI and he's not telling us the truth," Jackson joked before the Lakers faced the Detroit Pistons at Staples Center. "I watched that program (Monday) night just to see if that was what it was about.

"He dragged that kid out of the car. I'm sure that's where he got his injury. I've never watched that show before. I can't believe people watch that stuff.

"I told him to keep his night job, what the heck."

Typical Phil, I guess.

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