Tuesday night the Lakers picked up a big victory against the New Orleans Hornets and found themselves in control of their playoff destiny once again. Kobe Bryant had a dominant fourth quarter where he carried the team's offense on his back, but Pau Gasol's third quarter performance was brilliant and without it the Lakers would have had no need for a fourth quarter surge from Kobe Bean.
Gasol had all aspects of his game on display as he was dominant in the post, from the triple-threat position on the perimeter, and as a passer. Before the Lakers can think playoffs, they have to think about picking up the next four victories, and if Gasol can play at the level he did even for stretches it bodes well for the purple and gold.
It's unlikely Gasol can play a full game flexing his skill-set as he did here, but being able to produce for a quarter, or even a handful of possessions, is exactly what the Lakers need from the Spaniard. With Steve Nash continuing miss time the Lakers lack playmakers, but when the Gasol-machine is revved up on all cylinders the Lakers look like a team that can successfully run two big men in their offense.
He ended the night with 22 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists. Those are respectable numbers, but pale in comparison to how important he was in the flow of the game, and how great he looked and fluidly he moved offensively.
And of course, the perfectly angled bounce pass he hit Antawn Jamison with in the fourth quarter was the icing on a delicious cake of a game that Gasol put together. Of course, we've seen great stretches of basketball from Gasol in the past, so it's a matter of consistency from Gasol that matters for the Lakers. Regardless of the past and future, it was a great throwback performance from Pau that led to an important victory. Four games left for the Lakers to navigate through, and if this Pau Gasol shows up, that pathway looks a bit clearer.
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