INDIANAPOLIS — The relationship between Pau Gasol and Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni, an uneasy truce in recent months, took a turn for the worse Tuesday.
It spilled over after the Lakers were pounded by the Indiana Pacers, 118-98, a promising first half tumbling into a predictable, if not inevitable, ending for the Lakers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Gasol was irritated with teammates putting up too many one-on-one shots and bothered by D'Antoni's small-ball lineup, which pitted the slender Wesley Johnson against power forward David West.
Gasol called for more discipline, presumably from D'Antoni, saying there were too many "individual actions" right now.
Eleven of the Lakers' 15 players are in the final year of their contracts, a big problem on a losing team, no?
"Probably. That's part of it," Gasol said. "But that's why you have to be disciplined and implement discipline. That's how you kind of make that better or make that not a factor. I don't think there's a lot of discipline right now."
Teammates needed to be unselfish by making sure the ball was passed to an open player, Gasol added.
"Otherwise it's really deflating and takes a lot of energy away from individuals," said Gasol, in the last year of a contract paying him $19.3 million this season.
Kobe Bryant is a natural disciplinarian but isn't with the team while recovering from a fractured knee. Gasol suggested it was D'Antoni's job without actually mentioning him.
"I wouldn't put that responsibility on [Bryant]. He's frustrated with his situation and his injuries," Gasol said. "I don't think he has to be the one implementing the discipline."
Gasol complained about his role on offense a few times during his six years with the team, including two months ago when he told The Times that a lack of touches in the post was directly affecting his aggressiveness.
In his third game with the Lakers, Kent Bazemore scored a career-high 23 points but took 19 shots and made only eight. MarShon Brooks, a newcomer with a gunner's reputation, had 11 points on four-for-10 shooting. Gasol was six for 13 against Indiana.
The Lakers were outrebounded, 62-42, an unsurprising statistic because the physical Pacers own the NBA's best overall (43-13) and home record (27-3).
"When you get outrebounded by 20 rebounds, I don't care who you are and what you do, it's not going to work and you're not going to win," said Gasol, who had 13 points and nine rebounds in 27 minutes.
He was asked how the smaller Johnson would fare against beefy Memphis forward Zach Randolph if the Lakers continued to roll with a small lineup Wednesday.
"Good luck, right?" Gasol said, sighing. "Let's see what happens [Wednesday] if Wes continues to start or if we actually try to match up and utilize our size because we do have guys with size that can do well."
D'Antoni had already spoken to reporters by the time Gasol did. He was the last Lakers player to leave the locker room, taking the longest time to shower and dress.
D'Antoni didn't say much to the team after the game.
"Nothing," he said. "I'm not one to tell them right now. We'll talk tomorrow morning. We'll let them cool off a little bit and we'll show them some film and get a better idea of exactly how bad we played. Hopefully we can go out tomorrow and correct some mistakes."
D'Antoni, though, recognized the need for better team basketball.
"We tried to go one on one. When they turned the heat on, we just put our head down and we tried to beat [them] that way and you can't do that," he said. "Our new guys have got to learn how to play a little bit. We've got to teach them."
D'Antoni mostly complimented Bazemore but acknowledged his need to get a better feel for the game and not force things "a couple times."
The Lakers (19-38) trailed the Pacers at halftime, 57-54, but their offense faltered from there. Paul George had 20 points for the Pacers, who used only one starter (Lance Stephenson) in the fourth quarter.
Gasol wasn't buying the Lakers-initially-played-well story line.
"Better teams take it easy in the first half and then when they see the game is kind of close or they're fooling around with the game, they step it up in the third," he said. "I've been on the other side of it and I've done it many times."
Twitter: @Mike_BresnahanCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun