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Lakers Now Running on Gas-ol


            With two games under their belt with a healthy starting line-up, the Lakers have looked nothing short of impressive with the return of Pau Gasol. After sitting the Lakers first 11 games due to a sore hamstring, the 7 foot Spaniard Gasol had a very impressive season debut against Chicago posting 24 points, 13 boards (7 on the offensive glass), 3 assists, and a block in 35 minutes of play.  The following game against Oklahoma City, Gasol posted 15 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, while playing only 28 minutes due to the Lakers early lead over the Thunder. Averaging 19.5 points, 10 rebounds, 4.5 assists with a block and only one turnover in his two games back doesn’t begin to show Gasol’s major importance to the success of this team.

            Before the start of the season, the Lakers were one of the teams that were predicted to challenge the Bulls league record of 72-10, but their first 11 games, the chemistry wasn’t there. Kobe was averaging nearly 25 shots per game, and carrying the Lakers on his back, posting three 41-point outings in the span of four games. Ron Artest was looking passive; while Trevor Ariza was averaging career high’s across the board, wondering whether the Lakers front office had made the right decision to let the younger Ariza go.  Artest momentarily hushed critics when he posted his first double digit back to back games in two overtime victories against Oklahoma City and, ironically, Houston, with a clutch three pointer in the closing seconds of regulation followed by who else, but Trevor Ariza. Yet, something was still wrong. Posting an unimpressive record of 8-3 before Gasol, this team just didn’t seem as dominant as it was predicted to be. What’s even worse, in the three loses following Gasol’s return, Kobe averaged only 19 points a game, a clear message that if Kobe isn’t aiming for 40, the whole team maybe in trouble. In the eight victories, Kobe had to average 35.5 points a game, ironically extremely close to his season average of the 2005-06 season where Kobe saw no help. Enter, Gasol

            Gasol impact on this team is irreplaceable. A savvy Spaniard that can practically do anything with the basketball, literally! Since I’ve seen him on the team, I’ve seen him hit a three pointer before the end of the half (off an assist from Kobe), I’ve seen him run the fastbreak, and do practically anything else asked from him in a dominant fashion. It’s safe to say the last two games, and Gasol’s first two, have been extremely dominant from the get go, beating the Thunder and the Bulls by an average of 15.5 points. The same Thunder team that fought for 53 minutes before the Lakers finally wiggled free for a victory in overtime.

            The ironic thing about those two victories isn’t the end score, or even Gasol’s impressive numbers, but once again, Kobe’s numbers. In the last two blowouts, Kobe’s averaged only 23.5 points a game, but it’s increase in numbers across the stat sheet that has been impressive. Since Pau’s return, Kobe has shared the rock on his way to averaging 7.5 assists and rebounds a game. Prior to Gasol, Kobe’s highest assists game was 5. In the two games with Gasol, Kobe equaled his rebounds and assists if you add up his 5 games before Gasol’s return. That shows once again, how rare of a basketball player Pau Gasol is.

What Gasol brings to the team cannot be described by just the stats under his own name.  His ability to raise his teammates to such great heights has been remarkable. In his first season with the Lakers, he led them to the Finals, and in his first full season with the Lakers, he led them to the ultimate prize. Fortunately for Laker fans, the dominant big is back in the pain. The three-peat years saw the Lakers run on the Diesel, but since then the Lakers have been more energy efficient. The Lakers train will go, as far as Gas-ol takes them.

By: Cyrus Mehrfar, to follow, visit 


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