NBA Playoffs 2012: Why Pau Gasol Deserves the Game 2 MVP for LA Lakers

In a game that featured both Kobe Bryant creeping up on Michael Jordan for the most 30-plus point games in NBA playoff history, and the continued interior dominance of Andrew Bynum, the true story of the game was the brilliant, multifaceted play of Pau Gasol.

The tone to the Lakers’ 104-100 victory was set early by Gasol. After Andrew Bynum scored the game's first hoop deep in the post, Gasol knocked down a long two-pointer to put the Lakers up 4-0 against the Denver Nuggets off of Bynum’s assist.

Gasol’s willingness to acquiesce to Bynum’s burgeoning post game, coupled with his increased shooting range and exceptional passing ability, have been vital to Bynum’s offensive effectiveness all season long.

Pau’s exceptional timing with his interior passes has helped make Bynum one of the league's most difficult low-post covers. Gasol’s facilitating of Bynum has become a devastating regularity for Laker opponents; three of Pau’s five assists led to Bynum baskets in Game 2.

Yet it is Gasol’s range with his jumper that gives Bynum the essential room to operate. Three of Pau’s five baskets came from beyond 19 feet. The case could be made that Gasol owns the Lakers’ second most consistent jumper, behind one Kobe Bryant. 

With less than two minutes left in the first half, Denver had closed to within five. Gasol responded with a full display of his versatility, following up a perfect alley-oop to Bynum for a dunk with a defensive rebound and a 20-foot jumper.

Gasol has also been tabbed to anchor the second unit at the beginning of the second and fourth quarters. In Tuesday’s game, with Steve Blake and Matt Barnes unable to hit open jumpers, Pau’s ability to score and facilitate from the post was essential to keeping the Nuggets at bay while Bynum and Kobe rested.

While Gasol’s unique skill set of size coupled ...

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