Gasol interview

Pau Gasol interview from earlier today.

General comments: “I think we’re on the right track. We’re playing well. We’re playing aggressively. It’s a good place to be. There are always things you can work on to get to a better place. For the most part, we’re playing at a very high level. … Ultimately, we’re doing pretty well. So far, we understand we’ve had a nice home stretch. It’s going to get harder, it’s going to get more complicated, so we just can’t relax.”

On whether he’s gained confidence since winning the NBA title: “Maybe I’m a little bit more confident. Maybe I feel a little better and stronger about my game. I think that’s part of it. It’s also maturing. I’m getting close to 30 now. It kind of puts you in a good spot in your career.”

On Kobe Bryant’s comment that he’s a bad boy who knows he can’t be stopped: “You have to have that confidence and that swagger out on the floor. You can’t allow it to carry outside of the floor. I think I have really high confidence when I’m playing basketball and I feel like I can kick some butt. That’s why I’ve been successful in my career in everything I’ve accomplished. When I step off the floor, I know that’s just something I do really well. I’m not the center of the world. I’m not better than anyone else just because I have a certain skill. That’s my mindset.”

On whether he had the some confidence level while with Memphis: “I had that kind of confidence when I was in Memphis. But it was not joined by winning. And it was not joined by an extremely great level of teammates. I’m not saying the teammates I had in Memphis weren’t high quality, but, obviously, these are the best I’ve had. It really pays off and it makes you feel a lot better at the end of the day, when you’ve won and you’re in a good position at the top of the league. It was tough. At the end, I was really down on myself. I was losing my spark, my motivation, the passion I always had for the game. I was getting really frustrated. That’s why when this happened (the Feb. 1, 2008 trade to the Lakers), I was so thankful. I was so thrilled I had this opportunity. I still am, and still probably will be for the rest of my life.”

On not having to shoulder the scoring burden with the Lakers: “I can focus on a lot of other things. I can put a lot more energy into the defense. I know that’s what this team needs most because offensively we’re so gifted. I can put forth an effort defensively and exploit my qualities as a defensive player, which I wasn’t so much in Memphis. I was only offensive minded and putting up numbers and forget about defense because nobody is playing defense. It’s just tough. You get into that mode and it’s a bad deal. But here because I don’t have to use so much energy offensively, I can use it defensively, helping my teammates out and being there for my teammates. I can be a much better player.”

Lakers 106, Nets 87

Kobe Bryant scored 30 points on 11-for-17 shooting tonight and Pau Gasol added 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting as the Lakers handed the New Jersey Nets their record-tying 17th consecutive loss to start the season. Jordan Farmar added a season-high 15 points in a reserve role as the Lakers won their sixth in a row, all by double digits. Brook Lopez led the Nets with 26 points and 12 rebounds.

Halftime: Lakers 59, Nets 34

Kobe Bryant scored 23 points on 8-for-14 shooting and Pau Gasol added 10 points as the Lakers threatened to turn the game into a farce. The Lakers shot 52.5 percent in the first half and limited the Nets to 34.2 percent shooting. The Lakers led by as many as 27 points in the first half and seemed to be toying with winless New Jersey. Brook Lopez led the Nets with 12 points on 3-for-8 shooting. The Nets had 10 turnovers in the first half.

Lakers face coach-less Nets

The New Jersey Nets fired coach Lawrence Frank a few hours before tonight’s game against the Lakers at Staples Center. The Nets replaced him with assistant coach Tom Barrise and said in a statement that a “permanent replacement for Coach Frank has not been determined.” The Nets were 0-16 to start the season under Frank and looked to avoid matching the league record for the longest losing streak to start a season. The Miami Heat in in 1988-89 and the Clippers in the strike-shortened 1999 season also started 0-17.

Halftime: Lakers 60, Warriors 50

OAKLAND — Pau Gasol had 16 points and five rebounds in the first half tonight as the Lakers exploited their size advantage over the Golden State Warriors. Andrew Bynum added 11 points and Ron Artest had nine, Kobe Bryant scored only five. Corey Maggette led the Warriors with 13 points. Monta Ellis had eight points on 3-for-12 shooting.

This just in: Jackson reveals plans

Lakers coach Phil Jackson doesn’t often talk about his game plan, except in general terms. He said more than usual today when he announced Kobe Bryant would defend Golden State’s Monta Ellis when the teams play Saturday night in Oakland. Ellis is averaging 28.9 points in 43.4 minutes. He has scored 30 or more points in three consecutive games. He had 34 against Portland on Nov. 20, then scored 37 against Dallas on Tuesday and had a career-high tying 42 against San Antonio on Wednesday.

Bench woes

Lakers coach Phil Jackson wasn’t pleased by the play of the Bench Mob during Tuesday’s victory over the New York Knicks. Here’s what he had to say about the ongoing battle to get more out of the second unit: “Right now they’re just filling minutes for guys who are getting a rest on the bench. We have to do better than that. … I think they’ve done OK in the middle part of the game. I think (Tuesday) night, there just didn’t seem to be leadership from the right sources out there.” New York’s backups outscored the Mob, 41-9.

Was it a bad win?

Pilots like to say there’s no such thing as a bad landing. Coaches like to say there’s no such thing as a bad win. The Lakers led almost from start to finish, but they also nearly let a 25-point lead get away form them in the fourth quarter of tonight’s 100-90 victory over the New York Knicks. They outrebounded the Knicks by 60-36, but they also had 25 turnovers. They outscored New York, 28-17, in the third quarter but were outscored, 28-17, in the fourth.

Said Lakers coach Phil Jackson: “It’s one of those games that gets plodding the last six or eight minutes of the ballgame, so it doesn’t leave you with a great feeling when you walk out of the building. You know you won, but it’s not like a game where you felt it was well played and you did well. … We’re playing about 30 to 34 minutes right. We’re still missing about 14 minutes.”

Lakers 100, Knicks 90

Kobe Bryant scored 34 points on 14-for-20 shooting, an efficient night on a night when the Lakers’ rhythm came and went against the overmatched New York Knicks. Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum added 17 points apiece. Pau Gasol had 11 points and a team-leading 16 rebounds. Derek Fisher scored 12 points. Not to be overlooked, Lamar Odom had five points and 12 rebounds in a reserve role. The Lakers won their fourth consecutive. Wilson Chandler and Nate Robinson each scored 12 for New York.

Halftime: Lakers 55, Knicks 45

Kobe Bryant scored 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting in the first half to lead the Lakers, and Andrew Bynum added 10 points and six rebounds. Pau Gasol had nine points and a team-leading nine rebounds. David Lee and Wilson Chandler had 11 each for New York. Big question, why was this game so close? Well, the Lakers have a habit of going through the motions sometimes against weaker teams. With a 3-10 record going into the game, the Knicks certainly qualified. Perhaps the bigger question was, why weren’t the Knicks ahead?