Carlos Boozer had a sleepless night after the Utah Jazz's Game 2 loss to Los Angeles last Wednesday.
On Friday night, it was Pau Gasol's turn to count sheep, stare at his hotel room's ceiling and restlessly fidget while replaying his Game 3 performance in the Lakers' 104-99 loss over and over in his mind.
One thing's becoming a trend in this Western Conference semifinal for the key big men: You don't snooze if you lose.
"It took me a while to go to sleep, probably like 4 in the morning," Gasol said Saturday before the Lakers' practice at the Jazz's Zions Bank Basketball Center. "It took me a while. I don't take losses lightly, especially when I didn't do a good enough job. ... It was a long night."
Turnovers were mostly to blame for Gasol's insomnia. The 7-foot Spaniard shot the ball well when he wasn't coughing it up for five turnovers but he ended up scoring only 12 points on 6-for-10 shooting. That was nine points below his playoff average a chunk of scoring the Lakers could have used and a number the Jazz will gladly allow.
Three of Gasol's turnovers led to Jazz baskets in the first half, when Utah swiped it from him four times. He wasn't the only Laker with slippery fingers, either. L.A. ended up with 18 turnovers, including four from Kobe Bryant and three by Lamar Odom, compared to just 12 for the Jazz.
That's an area the Lakers say they must improve in today's Game 4 if they hope to steal a win in Salt Lake City and return home with a 3-1 series lead.
Gasol, who also had only six rebounds in one of his quietest games as a Laker, said he has to improve how he handles the extra pressure if the Jazz aggressively throw more guys at him again as they did in Game 3.
"I just got to do a better job of protecting the ball," Gasol said, "being stronger with the ball, be stronger on my moves and make sure the referees see the contact better in the next game."
On that note, Lakers coach Phil Jackson thought Gasol pleaded too often with officials to bail him out after he lost the ball.
"This is a game in which Pau was looking at the referees every time he got stripped there in the first half," Jackson said moments after Game 3. "And they were just attacking him every time he put the ball on the floor."
Bryant also credited the Jazz for effectively taking Gasol out of his game, which essentially minimized one of L.A.'s most potent weapons, aka "the Lakers' midseason gift from Memphis."
"I think they did a good job crowding him once he put the ball on the floor and tried to surround him," Bryant said. "We'll have to make adjustments in this next game in terms of freeing him up a little bit. Get him a little more spacing."
But spacing, Jackson said, wasn't Gasol's only problem.
"It's not about getting more space. It's about him understanding what's happening, picking the ball up and hitting the open guy," Jackson said. "They're leaving guys wide open. He's just got to get the basketball and put it in people's hands and they're going to score. That's his responsibility."
The Jazz, of course, preferred how they ended up being the "people" who often got the ball in their hands, thanks to Gasol et al.
"Obviously, I turned the ball over a lot in the first half. I did not get in any rhythm and any confidence more the opposite, to be honest with you," Gasol said. "Hopefully, I'll be able to do a better job reading the defense."
Despite Gasol's struggles and everything else that went wrong for them and right for the Jazz in Game 3, the Lakers took a positive spin out of the loss. They felt good about whittling Utah's 12-point fourth-quarter lead down to three late and having a legitimate chance to snatch a win at EnergySolutions Arena.
"Even though with all that, big game of (Carlos) Boozer, pretty good games of (Mehmet) Okur and (Deron) Williams, us having 18 turnovers and only (14) assists, we were right there," Gasol said. "Which tells you if we were to do different things a little better, we should be OK. ...
"We had a great chance. Even though we didn't have a really good game, we were right there."The Jazz will likely be happy if he stays up until the wee hours Monday thinking the same thing about Game 4.
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