LOS ANGELES (AP)—Pau Gasol(notes) wants the ball inside against the Denver Nuggets. Only he’s not about to pull a Keyshawn Johnson and order his Los Angeles Lakers teammates to “just give me the damn ball.”
That’s not the Spaniard’s way.
Gasol is all about finesse on and off the court, so he’ll leave the angry big man approach alone.
“I just want to go with what’s effective and what works out there and what’s been working for us and what’s a strength of ours,” he said after Tuesday’s practice. “I think we should explore that a little more.”
The mild-mannered Gasol complained about only taking four shots in the second half of a 120-101 loss at Denver on Monday night that left the Western Conference finals tied at two.
Gasol went 8 of 11 for 21 points in Game 4. He’s shooting 62 percent in the series, but he had only four free throws in the fourth quarter Monday.
“I don’t think there’s many people who would say there’s something right about it,” he said afterward. “I wish we would take more advantage of our inside game, because it’s pretty effective. It’s unfortunate we don’t recognize it enough.”
“They’re double-teaming him on the catch. He’s got to go a little quicker when he catches it,” Bryant said. “That’s something I’ve always told him, `When you got a shot you got to take it.’ At this late in the postseason, teams aren’t going to let you back out there and spin and do some of the things he likes to do in the post. He’s got to go and go quickly.”
Pushed on whether he would demand the ball in Game 5 on Wednesday night, Gasol didn’t sound too convincing.
“I’ll try, but there’s only so much I can do as far as demanding,” he said. “I’d rather talk to our coaches and our guys and hopefully we see what’s effective and what works and we go to it.”
The Lakers’ frontcourt of Gasol, Lamar Odom(notes) and Andrew Bynum(notes) were no match for Denver’s trio of Nene, Kenyon Martin(notes) and Chris Andersen(notes), who dominated the boards 42-25 in Game 4.
“One of our main focuses was trying to get the rebound so that way we can do our running game,” Andersen said. “Our best offense is our defense and rebounding is a big part of that.”
The Nuggets practiced in Denver on Tuesday before flying to Los Angeles.
Coach George Karl believes winning Game 5 on the road would be easier than doing so in a Game 7 on the Lakers’ home court.
“We right now have made somewhat of a move to challenge them to try and figure us out a little bit more,” he said. “Can we win the energy game down there? It would be a big step towards getting a win. My big guys were terrific last night. I don’t know if I’ve had three big guys be so dominant on the boards.”
The Nuggets rested for a week after putting Dallas away in five games in the conference semifinals. The Lakers, meanwhile, were pushed to seven games before escaping against Houston, and the fatigue appears to be showing.
“They’ve been playing every other day since May and we’ve had our breaks and the advantage to heal our bodies is better than the Lakers,” Andersen said. “Now we’re starting to get back in our rhythm that we were at when the playoffs started.”
Odom said the Lakers need a dose of energy and effort Wednesday night at Staples Center, where the Nuggets won Game 2.
“When you get behind, you take quick shots and you tend to give those guys some good numbers when it comes to rebounding,” he said. “We want to clean up the defensive boards and keep them off the offensive boards.”
Odom is continuing treatment for a lower back injury, but he declined to specify just how hurt he is.
“For this team to be good, I need to pick it up,” he said.
Bryant wouldn’t concede fatigue is hurting the Lakers.
“I don’t think it had anything to do with how we played yesterday, they just played better,” he said. “We do a pretty good job of responding to challenges and we certainly have one here tomorrow night. The challenge of the situation re-energizes me.”
The NBA fined Lakers coach Phil Jackson and the team $25,000 on Tuesday for his post-game comments on the officiating in Game 4.
The fines were announced after the Lakers addressed the media, but Jackson was asked whether the Nuggets have shifted their play from physical to dirty.
“There’s a sense of how much people want it, how you play when you have to play hard and how aggressive you become and that’s a fine line,” he said. “I want to keep the topic on a positive note. I don’t want to talk about that aspect of it.”
AP Sports Writer Arnie Stapleton in Denver contributed to this report.