Less than a week into the 2010-11 season, honors are already rolling in for the 3-0 Lakers. Monday afternoon, forward Pau Gasol was named Western Conference Player of the Week.
Challenged during the preseason by head coach Phil Jackson to assert himself more forcefully at the start of the season while Kobe Bryant continues his recovery from offseason knee surgery, Gasol responded with a trio of strong games. In victories over Houston, Phoenix, and Golden State, he averaged 25.3 points on 52.5 percent shooting, along with 10.3 rebounds and five assists per game.
"I think it always means that the team has won the games we've played," Gasol said of winning the award. "When I or a teammate is named Player of the Week, it's a very good sign."
Fresh off a second straight NBA title, the Player of the Week award won't cause Gasol to lose perspective, but he's nonetheless pleased at how his season has started.
"How can I not like it? Things are going well, we're winning, I'm healty and playing well," he said. "Just got to keep it up."
Gasol's next challenge comes Tuesday, as the Memphis Grizzlies, led by his brother Marc, visit Staples Center. In the past, Gasol has admitted that he doesn't particularly enjoying battling his younger sibling in the low post, but said Monday he's looking forward to the game.
"It makes it so much more special. It's always fun to go against your brother. It's always a very competitive game," Gasol said.
Time, Gasol says, has helped him adjust to the matchup.
"You get used to it," he said. "It's not a new thing, but it's still intense, still very exciting."
Brian Kamenetzky covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.