D’Antoni wishes Gasol had kept comments in house
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni says he understands the frustration that led to critical comments from Pau Gasol, but wishes the star center had not lashed out publicly.
D’Antoni addressed Gasol’s comments before Wednesday’s night game against the Memphis Grizzlies, saying much of the frustration comes from losing and a change in the team’s style of play.
Following Tuesday night’s 118-98 defeat at Indiana, the Lakers’ leading scorer criticized the club for a lack of discipline and expressed frustration with Los Angeles using smaller lineups.
Gasol mentioned everything from selfish play to D’Antoni’s offense as problems.
The Lakers have lost three straight and seven of eight after falling 108-103 to the Grizzlies on Wednesday night. Injuries to Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and others have left Los Angeles with the worst record in the Western Conference.
“I just made some remarks of how I felt after the (Indiana) game,” Gasol said after Wednesday’s loss. “Yes, there was some frustration, but I don’t think it was anything out of line or nothing that went too far. I stated something obvious to me.”
The Lakers remain 14½ games out of the final playoff spot in the West and the bulk of their players are in the final year of their contracts. The nucleus of the teams that made the Lakers a force in the conference is pretty well down to Gasol and role players.
Still, D’Antoni wasn’t happy that Gasol criticized the team in the media.
“The thing I just don’t appreciate — and I think every coach, and it should be everybody — you just keep it in house,” D’Antoni said during his pregame news conference. “It’s very easy to come over and talk about your frustrations. We’ll try to work something out and figure it out for now. But to go (to the media) and to do it in the paper is disturbing. I just don’t think that’s the way to go.”
D’Antoni said against big teams like Indiana and Memphis, it doesn’t do much good to challenge their strength inside by trying to match up with them. He prefers to counter with a smaller lineup and move the ball up and down the floor. He said the strategy worked against Indiana until foul trouble changed the approach.
“We went big, and it all came down because they’re a better bigger team than we are,” D’Antoni said of the Pacers. “If you are overmanned a little bit and you try to match up with them, it’s not going to work out.”
The Lakers coach said he understands Gasol being frustrated by a lack of ball movement and everybody wanting to shine in their contract year. The problem is when everyone wants to shine.
“Everybody’s looking for a contract on the team, and when the ball doesn’t share, then your numbers go down and you get frustrated, and then you lash out,” D’Antoni said. “The place to do it is in the dressing room among us.”
Gasol characterized the comments as “not that big of a deal.”
“It was just the emotions and the frustrations of a tough loss,” he said.