With Pau Gasol on target, this has all the makings of another blowout for Lakers
The Lakers aren’t exactly a picture of health these days, but their opponent on Sunday night lent plenty of credibility to the axiom that things can always be worse.
The Golden State Warriors limped into Staples Center and stumbled out of it after getting drubbed by the Lakers, 117-89.
It was bad enough for the Warriors that they played without power forward David Lee, sidelined because of an infection in his left elbow, but then they lost the NBA’s second-leading scorer, Monta Ellis, who crashed hard after a missed shot and sustained a bruised hip early in the third quarter.
The Lakers, not the types to sympathize with opponents these days, buried the Warriors, leading by 16 after the first quarter, 28 at halftime and 35 through three quarters.
Pau Gasol stole a page from Matt Barnes’ script, scoring 28 points and making all 10 of his shots two days after Barnes made all seven of his attempts in a victory over Minnesota.
In fact, Gasol and Barnes completed a bizarre run at history, two of a kind with their efficient, but obscure, stat lines. Before the last few days, Charles Barkley had been the only NBA player to get at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists in a game without missing a shot or free throw (minimum five attempts in each category).
Barnes did it against Minnesota and Gasol did it Sunday, adding nine rebounds and five assists. He made all eight of his free throws.
Perfection this early in the season? Twice in two games by Lakers players?
“Don’t know what to say,” said Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, who can usually find places to nitpick, though it would have been tough Sunday.
Gasol seemed amused at his brush with the NBA record books.
“Coincidence has something to do with it. It’s kind of weird it happened that way,” he said. “It happened once before in the history of the league and then back-to-back games it happens for two of our players. It’s weird, but obviously it’s a good sign.”
The Lakers (12-2) won their fourth consecutive game, coming back from a successful three-game trip by adding an easy victory that was also restful.
Kobe Bryant had 20 points, six rebounds and five assists and joined Gasol on the bench for the fourth quarter. Lamar Odom had 15 points and 10 rebounds and also watched the final quarter from the sideline.
In fact, none of the Lakers’ starters played past the third quarter. They’ll take the unexpected rest, with Chicago and Utah their next two opponents.
“It’s very important,” Jackson said. “It really gives them a chance to get iced and out of here early. They have that reserve [energy] to go to Tuesday night if they need it.”
The Lakers looked as if they were playing five on four Sunday night, shooting an impressive 55.7% while holding the Warriors to 35.2%.
How bad were the Warriors? Their leading scorer Sunday, Dorell Wright, had 16 points on five-for-17 shooting. Not exactly the model of accuracy.
Ellis might have been able to return after he went down, but the Lakers led by 31 at the time. Why push it? He finished with five points on two-for-10 shooting, guarded primarily by Ron Artest.
Gasol, meanwhile, became only the fifth Lakers player to make all of his shots with at least 10 attempts, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Mitch Kupchak and Byron Scott.
Chamberlain holds the Lakers record, making all 14 of his shots against Detroit in a 1969 game.
Could Gasol have matched it if he had stayed in the game?
“Maybe, maybe not,” he said. “Maybe I would have missed and we wouldn’t be talking about it.”
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