Once-Soft Pau Gasol Too Strong for Celtics in Opener

June 4th, 2010 by stephen riley Leave a reply »
A 30-point game from Kobe Bryant was expected. Ron Artest's 15 points and two steals were no surprise.

It was Pau Gasol—the same player who received much criticism from his "soft" 2008 NBA Finals performance—that provided the unexpected in Game One of the NBA Finals on Thursday night.

Gasol’s 23 points, 14 rebounds, and three blocks set the tone for the Lakers inside in their 102-89 win over the Boston Celtics, a far cry from the power forward/center who was called “soft” after the Celtics manhandled him two seasons ago.

“I thought the Lakers were clearly the more physical team today,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said in the postgame press conference. “I thought they were more aggressive. I thought they attacked us the entire night. I didn’t think we handled it very well. They killed us on the glass.”

Physical is a word that has eluded Gasol since that fateful ’08 Finals meeting, when the Celtics overpowered him, pushing him out of their way on route to a 17th title.

Gasol was barely into his fifth month with the Lakers after being acquired from the Memphis Gri ...

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