OAKLAND — Pau Gasol wore a solemn expression, and the reasons appeared wide-ranging.
As he stood in front of his locker before addressing reporters, Gasol struggled putting on his sports coat and noticed one of the buttons on his shirt sleeve came loose. His stuffy voice revealed the early signs of a cold. And then there was everything surrounding the Lakers’ 125-94 loss Tuesday to the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena.
Gasol sounded irritated about seemingly everything surrounding the disparity of the Lakers’ season-opening win against the Clippers to their clunker against Golden State. But he started on defense. Warriors guard Klay Thompson bombed a career-high 38 points on 15 of 19 shooting and 5 of 7 from 3-point shooting. Warriors forward David Lee muscled his way inside with 24 points on 8 of 13 shooting. Golden State made the Lakers suddenly look old with 25 fast-break points.
“We didn’t really create any energy for ourselves,” Gasol said. “There was no communication. On a back to back, you have to do that. We didn’t do that. We were stagnant on both ends of the floor and were not active enough. That’s what’s going to happen when we do those things.”
The Lakers experienced such issues last season. But with the Lakers no longer able to rely on Dwight Howard’s shot blocking or Metta World Peace’s physical one-on-one defense, the Lakers vowed they’d compensate by showing more effort and organization.
Easier said than done.
“It tells us we’re not on top of our game defensively,” Gasol said. “We’re going to get beat badly. We just have to be fully energized, focused and locked with every guy on the floor and personnel. We have to be extremely focused with everything. Otherwise, we’re going to struggle.”
Gasol wasn’t finished.
“I think we got to be conscientious of all the little things we got to do on a regular basis if we want to have a chance,” he said. “That’s basically it. We can’t bring it one night, not bring it the next and expect to win. Especially on the road and especially on a back-to-back. That’s not going to happen for you. So, either you understand that or you fail.”
Gasol has always spoken honestly in his 5 1/2 seasons with the Lakers, but he often shared his frustrations either diplomatically or in a passive aggressive tone. He spoke more forcefully following the Lakers’ loss to Golden State, part of a sign he’s trying to take on a larger leadership role with Kobe Bryant’s long-term absence with a torn left Achilles tendon and Steve Nash sitting out Wednesday against Golden State as part of a season-long strategy in preserving his body.
It appeared Gasol took the initiative on becoming the team’s spokesman and voicing concern even if the Lakers (1-1) are only two games into the 2013-14 season. That’s because he sensed the Lakers having an emotional letdown against Golden State after rallying the previous night against the Clippers.
“It looks that way,” Gasol said. “We can’t try to do it on our own. Good and better defensive teams will force us to make the extra pass, force us to move the ball and space the floor well. We can’t try to do it on our own. We have to cover for each other and be active. If we’re going to be small, we have to be active and get hands on balls and scramble as much as possible and hustle. That wasn’t the case. There were too many open shots for guys who are shooters.”
The Lakers also had issues on offense.
A night after the Lakers bench scored 76 points against the Clippers, they score 46. The Lakers shot 35.4 percent from the field. Gasol posted 12 points on 5 of 10 shooting and seven rebounds, but it appeared he didn’t operate as much in the post as he would expect with a larger role.
“I try to be a focal point and make things easier,” Gasol said. So far, I had a little bit of it. I’d like to see more consistency so I can help the team have a better flow and be more productive out there. It’s just two games of the season. It’s not that meaningful at this point. But I’d like to see more of that, so I can be more helpful.”
How do the Lakers do that?
“There has to be more organization and know what we’re running and knowing where the ball has to go through,” Gasol said. “If we don’t understand that, we’ll find ourselves lost out there making too many mistakes that we can’t afford.”
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