The drama continues to unfold in Los Angeles as Pau Gasol deals with his new bench role and head coach Mike D’Antoni finds himself in the midst of a three-game win streak with the Lakers.
In a report Wednesday from Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com, Gasol said he “doesn’t appreciate” the demotion to the bench that he received in January from D’Antoni and said it’s becoming a real challenge “every day to keep my calm.” Those comments come after Gasol was benched in the fourth quarter yet again Tuesday night when the Lakers got their third win in a row with a 111-106 victory over the New Orleans Hornets in front a home crowd at the Staples Center.
“I’m a competitor, I’m a guy that thinks I bring a lot to the table, and not being on the floor is something that I don’t like, I don’t appreciate. [I]t’s a challenge. We’re challenged every day, and I’m challenged every day to keep my calm and keep my peace and not let my emotions take over my words.”
D’Antoni insisted that the reason Gasol was on the bench was to deal with the small lineup that the Hornets went with down the stretch, but Gasol seemed to have his own idea of how D’Antoni should manage the Lakers substitutions, saying simply that a coach should put his best players on the floor when the game is close in the fourth quarter:
“I think the finishing is more important (than starting). I think the best players should finish off games. That’s just the way it’s got to be. When the game is on the line, you want to be on the floor. That’s more important.”