Sampson on Pau Gasol
A guy the Rockets very nearly acquired, Pau Gasol, has seen his minutes decrease during the Mike D'Antoni era in Los Angeles.
In the 10 games before D'Antoni took over, Gasol never played fewer than 30 minutes in a game. He played at least 35 minutes in eight of those contests.
This 35-plus minute trend continued during D'Antoni's first two games, when he played 38 1/2 minutes against the Nets, followed by 37:16 of playing time against the Kings.
In the five games since, he has only exceeded 30 minutes one time. He was benched for the final 6:07 of Sunday's game against the Magic in favor of Antawn Jamison. At the time, the Lakers were winning 84-83. They wound up losing 113-103.
Jamison has been the direct beneficiary of Gasol's decreased minutes. Before the last five games, the former Tar Heel had only exceeded 20 minutes one time in 12 games. In fact, he had fewer than 10 minutes of action in each of the two contests prior to the most recent five.
Since then, Jamison has exceeded 20 minutes in each game, including a 33-point effort in 32 1/2 minutes against the Nuggets on Nov. 30.
Gasol's field goal percentage has dipped eight points from a season ago for a career-low 42 percent. He's still averaging almost 35 minutes perg game for the season, but is averaging a career-low 12.6 points a game, which is almost five points lower than last season.
D'Antoni has told reporters his reasoning for this playing time shift is to spread the floor more for Dwight Howard.