CHICAGO – With the impressive numbers he’s put up so far this season, Pau Gasol has gotten the attention of opposing teams around the NBA.
In his first year with the Chicago Bulls after spending the last six-and-a-half seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, Gasol is averaging 19.4 points and 11 rebounds per game and looking quite comfortable in his new surroundings.
"He looks healthy, he’s scoring inside and he’s hitting the mid-range shots and he’s rebounding,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said Monday. "Nineteen (points) and 11 (rebounds), those are all-star numbers.
"And he’s in a situation now where he doesn’t have to play super heavy minutes, so it keeps him fresh all year. He’s one of many really difficult weapons you’ve got to deal with with the Bulls.’’
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Forward Dirk Nowitzki, who has matched wits against Gasol both in the United States and abroad, knows the 14-year veteran is back at the top of his game again following back-to-back injury-riddled seasons with the Lakers.
"He’s obviously a smart player,’’ Nowitzki said. "I think he fits with them great.
"He’s very, very unselfish.’’
In many respects, Gasol, who signed a three-year, $22 million free agent contract with the Bulls this past summer, is one of the toughest big men the Mavs will have faced thus far this season when Dallas plays Chicago on Tuesday. The 34-year old Spaniard is extremely versatile, is a threat down low and on the perimeter, and he’s also an exceptional passer.
"It’s going to be a tough challenge,’’ center Tyson Chandler said. "Pau is great around the rim, around the basket, has incredible footwork and incredible moves.
"He’s one of the best bigs on the block in our game, so my job is to just try to slow him down as much as possible. You know he’s going to get his touches, you know he’s going to get his shots, so I’ve just got to try to make his shots as difficult as possible.’’