LOS ANGELES – In his second game back from a respiratory inflection that forced him to miss three out of the last five games prior to Tuesday night, Pau Gasol had one of his best performances of the season.
Gasol against the Utah Jazz on Friday night nearly had a triple-double with 23 points, 17 rebounds, and eight assists to go along with three blocks. The 33-year-old was in form early on in the game as he scored eight points in the first quarter on 4-of-6 shooting, and he would have a similar stat line in the second quarter as he would go into halftime with a 16 points and eight rebounds.
He was more active and involved when he was on the floor, which led to more efficiency as he shot an effective 59 percent (10-17) from the field as compared to Tuesday’s game where he shot 39 percent (9-23) in a 94-79 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Gasol wanted to play aggressive and assert himself offensive against the Jazz.
“Mental focus,” Gasol said. “It was just confidence and being decisive and assertive. We shook off some of the bad feelings and sensations we carried from the other game. It was a really good start intensity, and we really brought the effort.”
It was not only the assertiveness on offense that helped the 13-year veteran, but it was also his hard work on the court that he felt he needed to provide for his teammates.
“I just want to play hard and play well and give as much as I can to this team,” Gasol said. “I owe it to myself and I owe it to my teammates. I just want to be that guy that works hard for the team.”
Gasol’s improved play did not go unnoticed as head coach Mike D’Antoni was impressed by his big man’s solid performance.
“That’s no doubt, [Gasol] felt better, he looked better, he got into a rhythm and [Kendall] Marshall helped,” D’Antoni said. “He was aggressive, and he’s got to be.”
This season for the Spaniard has been one of the most difficult years with the Los Angeles, as he has dealt with multiple injuries, trade rumors, and at times conflicting views with D’Antoni that all which have affected his performance on the court. But for Gasol, the main issue form him has been his health.
“My main thing has been health issues,” Gasol said. “A respiratory (inflection) is no joke and I twisted my ankle couple of times during the season, but those things will (certainly) affect and you got to play through them as much as you can. Right now I feel good and luckily I was able to recover well (from my illness).”
Although he has had to go through several adverse situations this season, he has remained focus on the task at hand and that is to help his team be as successful as they can, which is by giving it his all on the court.
“You just got to stay focused on the game as much as you can,” Gasol said. “You got to put everything aside as much as you can. You can’t let bother you, because you can’t control it no matter what. It’s not easy sometimes, but at the same time you just try to do your best.”
“I have always felt very privileged to do what I do and have the career that I have had. Nothing is going to take that away from me no matter what goes on, what’s talked or what might happen.”
Photo Credit: Associated Press
Bob Garcia IV
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