San Antonio Spurs center Pau Gasol had a big night in Sacramento, scoring a season high 24 points, grabbing 9 boards and blocking 2 shots in the Spurs’ 110-105 victory over the Kings. He shot a very efficient 10-of-17 from the floor, partly thanks to his teammates’ offensive successes and partly due to the defensive failures of Sacramento. Here’s a breakdown of his ten buckets (and two blocks).
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1.) Kawhi Leonard drives and forces help from two defenders, leaving Danny Green open in the corner and Pau open at the free throw line. Leonard makes the right read and dishes to the high percentage 3-point shooter in the short corner, but when that look isn’t there, Green drives and kicks to Gasol, who is still wide open in one of his favorite spots.
2.) This is the kind of block Tim Duncan used to make all the time. It doesn’t go into the 5th row and send the crowd into a frenzy, but it instead gets recovered by the defense and turns into a transition opportunity.
3.) Green’s strong drive draws the attention of both Pau’s defender and DeMarcus Cousins in the lane. Green makes a nice no-look pass to Gasol, who pump fakes against the recovering Cousins to get him in the air and get the and-one opportunity.
4.) On this pick and roll, Kosta Koufos double teams Tony Parker and doesn’t do enough to stop his baseline drive, forcing Willie Cauley-Stein to help with his back turned to Gasol. LaMarcus Aldridge and Leonard were both open too, but this was Pau’s night.
5.) Parker gets another nice assist on this one as Pau simply beats his man down the floor, leading to an easy layup plus the foul.
6.) This is a poster block against one of the league’s best big men, and Pau gets it by basically just staying in the same place in front of the basket. A lot of Gasol’s defense is about being in the right spot, and he’s been doing that fairly well this year.
7.) Gasol and Davis Bertans play good defense against Cousins, sending Boogie to his backside and sending the ball the other way in transition. While Cousins lies on the floor and complains to the ref, Pau runs 90 feet away and gets another easy bucket.
8.) This is a defensive lapse by Cousins, who loses Gasol watching Green dribble. Pau receives the pass with his back to the basket and faces up so slowly and robotically that it looks like the mechanics in an old video game, but Cousins is so late contesting that it doesn’t matter.
9.) This is just really, really awful pick-and-roll coverage by the Kings. Koufos tries to hedge it but Parker gets around the hedge, turning it into another screen on his teammate. Parker passes around the two tangled Sacramento players to Pau at the elbow for an easy deuce.
10.) Pau gets another open catch-and-shoot elbow jumper here, this time the beneficiary of a pass from Bertans and a beautiful down screen by 39 year old Manu Ginobili. It’s the kind of screen that makes you say, “Wow, Manu has played that way forever and will continue to do so until the end of time.”
11.) Manu starts the pick-and-roll but briefly loses control of the ball, causing the defenders to double him and leave Pau open. Ginobili recovers and slings a pass to Gasol, who turns and finishes over two smaller defenders at the rim.
12.) Gasol takes advantage of the smaller Matt Barnes, boxing him out while Kawhi passes to Aldridge, who catches and lobs into the post in one motion. With Barnes holding on to his right arm, Pau uses his left to catch the pass, keep the ball high and lay it up and in for another and-one.
None of Gasol’s 10 makes were well contested, and all of them came on assists. He got clean shots in the flow of the offense and took advantage of defensive mistakes. Sacramento defended him pretty poorly, and he got buckets and got to the line as a result. His teammates kept finding him open in his favorite spots, and he kept putting the ball in the hole. Sure his teammates (and opponents) helped, but it was a big night for the big fella.