When shot is off, Gasol is on boards

Times Staff Writer

The key piece who helped bring the Lakers this far wasn't shooting or scoring with much efficiency in Game 5, but it didn't matter.

Pau Gasol found other ways to be active.

He had 19 rebounds, one shy of his career best, and took a whopping nine offensive rebounds, tying his career high.

He didn't shoot well Thursday against San Antonio -- five for 15 -- and had only 12 points, but between the rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots, Gasol paid his latest thank-you to the Lakers, who acquired him in a season-turning trade on Feb. 1.

"Offensively, I didn't have a good night shooting, but I was just persistent in focusing on the defensive end and trying to pursue the ball, chase it offensively and defensively and get better opportunities for my team," he said. "That's what I tried to do tonight."

Consider his attempts an accomplishment.

He also held San Antonio forward Tim Duncan to a subpar shooting night -- 19 points on seven-for-19 shooting.

"Me doing a good job on Duncan and doing the little things helped more to the team," Gasol said. "I just knew that we were one step away from getting to the NBA Finals, which is something I have been wishing and dreaming for a long time."


The NBA made a statement. Phil Jackson was hoping it would be more thorough.

The league said Spurs guard Brent Barry should have been awarded two free throws after being bumped by Derek Fisher near the end of Game 4, but the Lakers' coach thought there also should have been a ruling on the previous possession.

Fisher's 17-foot shot with 6.9 seconds left appeared to graze the rim before hitting Spurs forward Robert Horry and falling out of bounds. The referees, however, said Fisher's shot was an airball, leaving the Lakers with only two seconds left on the shot clock. Kobe Bryant's hasty turnaround 16-footer was short, and the Spurs gained possession with 2.1 seconds to play.

"What did they say about the 24-second clock?" Jackson asked rhetorically. "They didn't want to go all the way? You've got to start peeling that onion a long way back, don't you, if you start opening it up."

With the Lakers leading, 93-91, Fisher made contact with Barry, but there was no call.

A day later, the league said a two-shot foul should have been awarded to Barry because his path was impeded by Fisher.

"That's their discretion to do that kind of stuff," Jackson said of the league. "If everybody's appeased by that, then we move forward. We don't have to replay the game, do we?"

The Spurs, for their part, provided only whoop-de-doo responses.

"I'll send some flowers to the NBA," Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich deadpanned. "That's great."


Jackson was more approving of the NBA's plan to crack down on flopping next season by imposing fines on egregious offenders.

"I think if you fine them in euros, you'd find out that it would really end quickly," he said. "There are some American-born players that flop. . . . It has come to a rather weird state in our game where it's beginning to look more and more like European soccer."




NBA Finals

Best-of-seven series; all games 6 p.m. PDT, Channel 7 (*-if necessary)

Game 1: Thursday at Eastern winner

Game 2: June 8 at Eastern winner

Game 3: June 10 at Staples Center

Game 4: June 12 at Staples Center

Game 5: June 15 at Staples Center*

Game 6: June 17 at Eastern winner*

Game 7: June 19 at Eastern winner*

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