Mike D'Antoni has seen enough of big men setting career highs against the Lakers.
Pau Gasol, does he have your attention?
"In the paint, we're awful and we've got to get tougher," the Lakers' coach said before Tuesday's game against Phoenix. "If we want to be a good team and if we want to get better, then that's definitely a point of emphasis."
Toronto power forward Amir Johnson scored a career-high 32 points against the Lakers on Sunday. Earlier this season, Anthony Davis blistered them for 32 points in New Orleans, Washington's Nene nailed them for 30 and low-scoring Denver center Timofey Mozgov matched his personal best with 23 points.
Gasol needs to quickly improve defensively despite apparently being bothered by a mild sprain in his right ankle.
"We've got to have him back [ability-wise] as soon as we can, obviously, because we're not going to win with Kobe [Bryant] coming back and with Pau struggling," D'Antoni said. "We've got to get them both up to a great level."
But Gasol isn't coming off a serious injury, so D'Antoni has some advice.
"Just be aggressive," he said. "He knows what to do. He's been in the league long enough."
It's not just Gasol's fault. Golden State swingman Klay Thompson (38 points) and Brooklyn small forward Mirza Teletovic (17 points) also posted career highs against the Lakers. Teletovic then topped it with 18 against Houston.
To be fair, the Lakers have posted some career highs of their own.
Xavier Henry had 27 points against Portland, Jordan Hill scored 24 against Detroit and Robert Sacre had 12 points against Portland.
Bryant had nine points in his season debut Sunday, committed eight turnovers and then said he wasn't worried about team chemistry because the Lakers hadn't played like "gangbusters" without him.
"I have to disagree with that," D'Antoni said Tuesday. "We were 6-2 in our last eight and I thought we played extremely well, winning three on the road. That's not quite right. I'm really proud of what the guys did."
D'Antoni, though, said he was eager to incorporate Bryant into the lineup.
"It's difficult. If it was anybody else, it would be kind of tragic," D'Antoni said. "But it's Kobe Bryant. We're happy to do this. It's just the necessary process that we have to go through."
Twitter: @Mike_BresnahanCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun