DALLAS – Watching Lakers coach Phil Jackson pop Pau Gasol in the chest during Game 3 Friday night made it seem like he was angry that his All-Star power forward has struggled to perform up to his own standards during this Western Conference semifinal.
But Jackson jumped to Gasol’s defense Saturday, questioning the officiating in the three games and why the Dallas Mavericks are being allowed to move Gasol out of the way with a “high knee” deep in the low post. He said the New Orleans Hornets did the same thing in the Lakers’ first round series, courtesy of the ways the officials have been instructed to call — or not call — the play in those situations.
“I’ve resisted [saying] this the whole playoffs, but the NBA used to call a ‘knee up the a–,’ that’s what they called it,” Jackson said before the Lakers’ Saturday afternoon practice. “You couldn’t lift a knee off the floor to run a guy off the post — they’ve been doing that every time [against Gasol]. They’re taking him out of the post and he can’t get a tight post spot. We didn’t complain about it against New Orleans, but the Mavs are doing the same damn thing and until the league goes back to the rules that they have about playing post play, Pau’s got to move out and face the basket.”
Kobe Bryant came to Gasol’s defense, too, what with Gasol taking fire from everywhere — including this nasty Twitter smackdown from noted Lakers fan Snoop Dogg.
“He looks fine,” Bryant said. “They are letting the defender get away with quite a bit with him, shoving him off the post. But he’s not playing too bad. He’s not playing as well as we’re accustomed to seeing him play. But he’s still playing well … he’s doing what he normally does. He’s getting the looks he normally gets. He’s just converting at as high a percentage as he usually does, 65 percent or whatever it is. But he’s fine.”
Bryant admitted that he wasn’t his usual self in the final five minutes of Game 3, when the Lakers were outscored 20-7 during crunch time.
“The last five minutes is when I go to work,” Bryant said of the last five minutes. “And I didn’t do that the last game. I’ve got to make those plays. I’ve got to go get the ball and make those plays.”