Pau Gasol feeling 'some tension'
DALLAS -- Los Angeles Lakers All-Star forward Pau Gasol has struggled in the postseason, as his scoring average has plummeted by more than five points per game and his rebounding average has gone down more than two since the regular season.
"Obviously there's some tension inside of me," Gasol said Friday night. "I guess it's -- you can see it. It's tangible."
With the Lakers on the brink of elimination, trailing 3-0 in the Western Conference semifinals to the Dallas Mavericks, Gasol addressed rumors published on Internet gossip websites that suggested relationship problems have led to Gasol's on-court problems.
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"I stay away from them but people close to me read them," Gasol said before practice Saturday. "At some level it's affecting some people that are close to me, very close to me. To me, it's sad, because if there was any truth to it, you deal with it. But, when there are lies or they make up stories, it's not pleasant. I don't think they help at any level. But, it's part of the business. We're surrounded by a lot of media and the media try to do their job the best way they can and some try to do that."
One report intimated that Gasol's situation had spilled into the Lakers locker room and caused an argument between him and Kobe Bryant because Bryant's wife became involved in Gasol's relationship issues.
When asked if he was aware of any of the Internet stories about him and Gasol being published, Bryant responded with a pointed "No."
Gasol was also asked about his relationship with Bryant and if he was on the "same page" as his fellow All-Star.
"Chemistry is great, actually," Gasol said. "There has been a lot of talk, even rumors and stories made up that I don't know where they come from, but it's unfortunate. Apparently it comes with the situation that we're in. People try to find reasons, throw stones at us at this time, and it's part of the deal."
Gasol's relationship with coach Phil Jackson has come into question for completely different reasons after Jackson was quite animated while approaching Gasol during timeouts in the Lakers' 98-92 loss on Friday.
"I always listen," Gasol said. "I listened to what he had to say. It wasn't shocking to me, or anything. I wasn't shocked by it; I just wanted to see his point, and what point he was trying to make more than anything through his words."
At several times in the game, Jackson made his point by hitting Gasol in the chest with his fist.
"I didn't even feel that," Gasol said Saturday.
When a reporter said that in Game 3 Jackson looked the most demonstrative he's ever been with Gasol, Jackson denied it.
"That's not true," Jackson said. "I've been animated or demonstrative with him many times. He and I have a little routine we go through about once a year where we go get into a little bit of an activity like that where I feel like he might be sitting back on his heels and he needs to get on his toes."
Asked if Jackson had ever made contact with him before when he was coaching him, Gasol said, "Maybe once, I don't know."
Jackson took Gasol's side on Saturday, commending the "exceptional" help-side defense he displayed in Game 3 and blaming some of Gasol's offensive woes on the officiating.
"I've resisted [saying] this the whole playoffs, but the NBA used to call a 'knee up the a--,' that's what they called it," Jackson said. "You couldn't lift a knee off the floor to run a guy off the post -- they've been doing that every time [against Gasol]. They're taking him out of the post and he can't get a tight post spot. We didn't complain about it against New Orleans, but the Mavs are doing the same damn thing and until the league goes back to the rules that they have about playing post play, Pau's got to move out and face the basket."
Gasol ranked 12th in the NBA in the regular season in shooting percentage, making 52.9 percent of his attempts with many looks coming in the paint and around the basket. He is shooting just 42.2 percent during the playoffs.
"So, we're kind of resigned that they're not going to change the rules, I mean, they're not going to go back to what they used to have as a rule," Jackson said. "He's going to have to go out and face the hoop and play more of a pinch post and more of an active role in screen-rolls."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Brian Kamenetzky contributed to this report.