2011 NBA Playoffs: Lakers’ Pau Gasol Needs To Shed Soft Label for Game 3

When people started talking about the 2011 NBA Playoffs and this particular series, predictions of the Lakers taking the series 4-0 or 4-1 were raining in from all over the place. Chris Paul would dazzle, but the size of Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom would crush the spirit for the Hornets. Carl Landry wouldn’t be able to handle the Laker bigs inside. David West would be sorely missed.

Yet, here we are, with Carl Landry shaking Gasol down in two games like he owes him money, and the Hornets actually making this a series. We were all correct about Paul completely dominating Derek Fisher and Co. at the point. That won’t change. But what about Carl Landry holding his own and Trevor Ariza locking down Kobe Bryant?


Why the Lakers Will Win

Because Pau Gasol isn’t really this much of a "weaky." He hasn’t done anything in the first two games, and he’s being more soft than he’s ever looked in his career. Landry’s physical toughness (I know, right?) is pushing Gasol away from the rim, and he’s settling for jumpers or simply not being strong enough when he gets inside. That will change...at least it has to if the Lakers really want to get out of the first round alive.

Along with Gasol’s likely turnaround, Andrew Bynum shouldn’t have much trouble feasting on the rest of the New Orleans inside attack, which, putting it politely, is fairly non-existent. For what Gasol is currently lacking, Bynum is making up for with tenacity and toughness. His ability to take over Game 2 and carry the team showed the Lakers can get by with Gasol being weak for now.

Ultimately, this has to come back to Kobe Bryant. He let himself get shut down in Game 2, yet his team won. Something has to change, however, for the Lakers to win on the road, and it might as well start with Bryant. His offensive game will be better in Game 3, and he’ll be more drive...

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