No matter how well Earl Clark was playing by Earl Clark standards it had nothing on what Pau Gasol’s best was by anyone’s standards. Too bad everyone but Mike D’Antoni understood that.
To quote known Laker hater Bill Simmons: “Mike D’Antoni, if your system tells you to play Earl Clark over Pau Gasol then you need a new system.”
No disrespect to Clark who has certainly been a valued contributor for the Lake Show this season but he had no business starting over an All-Star and champion like Gasol. Whenever Jim Buss on another D’Antoni apologist would roll out the excuse of the Lakers top five players not being healthy all at the same time I’d simply look to Gasol on the bench and say, “so what’s the excuse now?”
D’Antoni couldn’t figure out how to get the most out of Gasol or any post player for that matter. So his method was to simply bench Pau essentially ignoring the problem.
Oddly enough Pau’s time away due to injury provided the moment of clarity for D’Antoni.
Since his return Gasol has looked more like the Pau we’ve all expected to see and D’Antoni finally has an understanding on how to play his prized big. Skilled seven-footers like Gasol don’t grow on trees. D’Antoni was trying to make a post player a jump shooter but that has finally ended with Gasol reverting to his all-around self once again. It’s no coincidence that the winning ways have returned to Lakerland as the team finds itself in the playoff picture with the season grinding towards a dramatic conclusion.