Pau Gasol had a rough night for the Los Angeles Lakers in their 111-99 win last night over the Phoenix Suns, going 4-for-13 and finishing with just 10 points. Teammate Kobe Bryant has a theory as to why -- recent trade rumors have taken their toll on the veteran big man, making it "an emotional couple of days for him."
"Personally I don't understand that crap," Bryant told the L.A. Times. "But it is what it is. It's important for him to know we support him. I support him especially. I just want him to go out there and play hard and do what he does best for us."
Gasol is averaging 16.6 points per game this season, a career low, and his brother Marc beat him out for a spot on this year's West All-Star squad. Part of that is the rise of Andrew Bynum, who's taken the spotlight away from Gasol with a career year, but part of it is the constant trade chatter. Gasol was nearly traded to the Rockets in the nixed Chris Paul deal two months ago, and rumors have continued to circle him ever since.
"At times it crosses your mind, but not exactly when you're playing," Gasol said. "Obviously when you're playing, you're focused and you try to do the best that you can. It's something you have to shake off regardless at any time at any point."
One silver lining for the Lakers: They've continued to win despite the distraction surrounding Gasol. Last night's win brought them to 3-0 this week.