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 would not have lashed out publicly.
D’Antoni addressed Gasol’s comments before Wednesday’s night game against the Memphis Grizzlies. He said much of the frustration comes with losing and a change in the team’s style of play.
Following Tuesday night’s 118-98 loss at Indiana, Gasol, 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 had lost two straight and six of seven going into Wednesday night. Injuries to Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and others have left Los Angeles with the worst record in the Western Conference.
The Lakers were 14 1/2 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 understood 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 was not immediately available for comment before the game.