LA Wise to Go All-in with Gasol for NBA Championship Run This Season

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IJanuary 1, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 25:  Pau Gasol #16 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates after a scoring play against the New York Knicks during the NBA game at Staples Center on December 25, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers defeated the Knicks 100-94.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers are just a mediocre 15-15 in the standings coming into their New Year's Day showdown with the Philadelphia 76ers, but on the court, the Lake Show is surging into 2013.

Having won six of their last seven games overall after seemingly hitting rock bottom at 9-14 on Dec. 13, the Lakers are back in the thick of things in the Western Conference and are apparently dead set on riding their current roster, including Pau Gasol, to the promised land, according to this from HoopsWorld:

Laker sources say the goal is to compete for a NBA championship this year and that Gasol at this point gives them the best option to do that.

Although Gasol has been the subject of countless rumors throughout the beginning of the season, he's clearly a valuable piece to a win-now championship roster.

Sure, his numbers are way down this season (12.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game) and he's been plagued by foot and knee injures (eight games missed), but when Gasol is on top of his game, the seven-footer demands attention in the paint and elevates L.A. on the offensive end of the floor.

Gasol, who has connected on a career-low 43 percent of his shots this season, is averaging 17 points on 65 percent shooting from the field over his last two outings with L.A. At some point Gasol has to turn things around for the better, and it seems that he's destined to in early 2013.

The Lakers, now the fourth-highest scoring team and third-best rebounding squad in the NBA, are starting to maximize on their talent under Mike D'Antoni's new system and, of course, point guard Steve Nash, who recently returned from a lower leg injury.

Nash is averaging 12.3 points and 9.5 assists per game on 60 percent shooting from the field and 57 percent shooting from downtown in his first four games back. L.A. has gone 3-1 over that stretch and looks to be back on track to contend for the Larry O'Brien Trophy, just a half-game back of the No. 8 seed. 

With a roster full of past champions and All-Stars, the Lakers' best move is to carry on with the talent they were fortunate enough to acquire. 

Yes, they've immensely underachieved through the first third of the 2012-13 regular season, but no one can deny that they'll be a title contender all the way up until the end.


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