NBA

D'Antoni hopes to get Gasol, Howard involved

11/24 6:55 PM

Mike D'Antoni hopes to get Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard more involved.

DALLAS -- Pau Gasol made it pretty clear Friday night he thinks he needs more touches in the post to perform at the level that has made him a four-time All-Star.

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni made it clear in return that Gasol will have to adapt his game to D'Antoni's system if he wants to play the kind of role he's accustomed to playing.

Something's gotta give.

And so Saturday morning, D'Antoni made a small peace offering.

"He got some oatmeal this morning and I said, 'Nice choice,' " D'Antoni joked as the Lakers prepared to take on the Mavericks.

A nice start, but until Gasol and Dwight Howard start feeling more comfortable and involved in D'Antoni's offense, humor might not be enough to diffuse the situation.

D'Antoni benched Gasol for the entire fourth quarter of the Lakers' 106-98 loss to Memphis on Friday, saying after the loss: "I was thinking, 'Boy, I'd like to win this game.' That was the reason."

While Gasol, who scored just six points on 3-of-8 shooting, said he respected his coaches' decision, he noted: "I don't remember the last time that has happened in my career."

Gasol took responsibility for his poor shooting, emphasizing that it's hard for him to get into the flow of the game when most of his shots come from the perimeter.

"All my looks are jump shots," he said. "I would like to see something closer to the basket and not just rolling, especially when Dwight is there. But we'll see. We'll figure it out. We're just starting, pretty much."

On Saturday, D'Antoni said he understood where Gasol was coming from and shared his concerns about getting more involved offensively.

In the past two games, Howard and Gasol have combined to score just 28 points on 10-of-27 shooting. Gasol has been reduced mostly to a 15-foot jump-shooter, and Howard has been swarmed every time he catches the ball with his back to the basket and been forced to pass it back out to the perimeter.

"We have to figure out how to get him more involved," D'Antoni said. "It's not just him. It's to get Dwight more involved. We can't have our big guys shoot just five or six times.

"Pau's a great guy. I didn't try to disrespect him. With the way the game was going, Antawn (Jamison) was on fire and we were spreading the floor. I decided to keep going at the end with what I had because we got it down to six points and you make a quick decision.

"I don't think (Gasol) played extremely well, but Pau is a great player and will always be a great player. We'll keep tinkering and working. A lot of this stuff will (change) too when the Steves (Nash and Blake) come back."

When asked if he planned to tweak anything offensively to get Gasol more touches in the post, D'Antoni said he didn't want to change things up until Steve Nash comes back and gives his system a real chance to work.

Neither D'Antoni nor Nash has ever played with talented big men such as Gasol and Howard. His offense historically has featured forwards who can stretch the floor with their outside shooting or athletic bigs like Amar'e Stoudemire, who excel as finishers in the pick-and-roll game.

"I don't think anybody has had big guys like that," D'Antoni said, when asked whether his system can adapt to players with skill sets such as Gasol and Howard. "I still think the system we run will be more beneficial to them whether they're back to the basket or not. We'll get them to that position, but I don't think like a traditional 'I'll run down, post up and then beat each other half to death and then make a decision.' We're going to move the ball, pick-and-roll and the ball is going to find energy."


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