source: Dave McMenamin | ESPN Los Angeles
Pau Gasol has always been a thoughtful fellow to speak to following a Lakers game -- win or lose -- as he's usually able to remove emotion from the moment in order to provide proper perspective.
Ever since Derek Fisher was traded from the team, however, and Gasol stepped into the void that Fish left by being named one of the team's co-captains along with Kobe Bryant, the Spaniard has been more direct in his postgame comments.
Bryant usually has no problem saying exactly what's on his mind. Earlier in the season after a loss in Phoenix, he turned the postgame locker room into his pulpit, ripping management for leaving Gasol dangling in the trade winds.
Phoenix was the scene of another crushing road loss for the Lakers on Saturday, as they were defeated 125-105 -- their worst loss of the season when measured by margin of defeat.
Bryant didn't speak this time, ducking out of the locker room without speaking to reporters after sitting out the game with a left shin injury, but Gasol was plenty vocal in his place.
"Lately we're not playing with that sense of urgency that I think is needed at this point when there's only nine games left now," Gasol said, taking zero solace in his season-high 30 points to go with 13 rebounds. "We have a pretty tough schedule going into these nine games. So, we have to be aware of exactly what we're playing for and where we are at this point of the season, which is at the very end. Otherwise it's going to really hurt us."
Gasol's not kidding. Five of the Lakers' remaining nine games are on the road and the Lakers are just 12-16 away from Staples Center this season. Six of the games are against teams that would make the Western Conference playoffs if the postseason started today, including three games against San Antonio.
And the easiest game remaining on the slate, at least on paper, is Monday's game in New Orleans because the Hornets have a West-worst 15-41 record. But, even that game is tricky because the Lakers could be without Bryant. Not to mention, the Hornets gave the Lakers a legitimate scare last weekend when L.A. was barely able to eke out an 88-85 win at home against New Orleans.
"We definitely need to regroup and bounce back quickly, starting with New Orleans," Gasol said. "We know how dangerous they are. We know how we played against them. So, if we take them lightly it's going to be ugly for us. We need to make sure we understand what we need to do. Just continue to keep it together."
Things could fall apart pretty quickly if the Lakers don't heed Gasol's words.