Mike D'Antoni: Pau Gasol Back to Playing at an 'All-Star Level'

Ben LeibowitzCorrespondent IIIDecember 17, 2013

USA Today

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni said that big man Pau Gasol is back to playing at an “All-Star level” following two solid outings, according to Lakers beat reporter Mike Trudell via Twitter.

Gasol has completely flipped the script from a shooting perspective, making 16-of-21 attempts from the floor in his past two games (76.2 percent). The Spaniard had a 16-point, 10-rebound game in a loss against the Atlanta Hawks, and a 21-point, nine-rebound performance on Tuesday against his former team the Memphis Grizzlies.

The 33-year-old veteran has traded barbs with Coach D’Antoni this season, claiming that he’s been underutilized, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times.

“When I’m not getting the ball where I want to, where I’m most effective, where I can bang guys and utilize my skill, that affects my aggressiveness and overall intensity,” Gasol said.

To which D’Antoni responded, “Everybody, to a man, we’ve just got to play harder and worry about things less.”

Perhaps Gasol decided to take D’Antoni’s words to heart, because he’s finally showing flashes of the player he was during back-to-back championships with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010.

He’s still shooting a career-low 42.8 percent from the field, but Kobe Bryant’s return to the court appears to have had a positive impact on Gasol’s play.

If nothing else, perhaps Gasol will raise his trade value prior to the 2013-14 deadline.