Mike D’Antoni benched Pau Gasol because he wanted to win the game
The four-time All-Star has experienced two of his poorest statistical games this season in the last two Lakers contests — both losses. Gasol also found himself on the bench for the entire fourth quarter of the 106-98 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. Not only did Gasol deal with that disappointment, but D’Antoni also seemed to insult him after the game.
During his postgame news conference, D’Antoni was asked what he was thinking when he left Pau on the bench in crunch time again. He spared no feelings in his response.
“I was thinking ‘Oh, I’d like to win this game.’ That’s what I was thinking,” D’Antoni said.
Gasol had picked up his fourth foul with just over a minute left in the third quarter when he went to the bench, and he never returned. He said he couldn’t remember the last time he didn’t play an entire fourth quarter.
“That’s not my decision,” Gasol said of his benching, per the LA Daily News. “I’m a professional. When my number is called, I’m out there. But it’s something that hasn’t happened to me.”
He also complained about his role in the offense, saying he wants more looks in the post.
“All my looks are jump shots,” Gasol said, via the LA Times. “I’m not a pure jump shooter. I can stretch the defense out and take a couple jumpers, but how I get going is by getting in the paint and creating off the post and things like that. That’s historically how I’ve been very successful and how I’ve made a very good name for myself and earned my contracts. Hopefully I’ll find a way….”
Gasol’s conditioning came into question after Wednesday’s loss to the Sacramento Kings. He scored eight points in 37 minutes that game. He stats were similarly down on Friday; he had six points in 27 minutes. D’Antoni mentioned the conditioning issue again on Friday, reportedly saying the team needs to “get in a little bit better shape.”
“Guys have got to get used to this pace,” said D’Antoni. “It might take a little bit, but we’re going to run up and down. And if you can’t run up and down and play quickly, then we’ll have to find guys that do.”
D’Antoni has only coached the Lakers during three games this season, but he already is having a big impact. If things don’t begin to change, it looks like Gasol will be the odd man out on this team. Right now he is not a good fit for D’Antoni.