Pau Gasol: Attitude is positive

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- By the time the Los Angeles Lakers opened last season with a loss to the Dallas Mavericks on the heels of an 0-8 preseason, Pau Gasol already knew the team had a major problem.

"It's very rare for a team to go 0-8 in the preseason," Gasol said after shootaround Tuesday in advance of the Lakers' regular-season opener against the Los Angeles Clippers. "I think that's definitely a big alarm there. So, you knew something wasn't clicking, wasn't working for whatever reason. It was an indicator. We started 1-4 before [coach] Mike [Brown] was released.

"I think everything happens for a reason, and this preseason has been much more positive than last year's and we've done things a lot better. The atmosphere, the attitude of players, the togetherness of the team has been really positive. Now, let's see if that helps us. Hopefully that's a big factor for us starting tonight and moving forward."

Last season, with the additions of two-time MVP Steve Nash and three-time defensive player of the year Dwight Howard, carried a championship-or-bust vibe for the Lakers that pressurized every development that unfolded. This season, the expectations have gone in the opposite direction, with Howard's departure, Kobe Bryant's injured Achilles, and Gasol's and Nash's age leaving many convinced that the Lakers are destined for the draft lottery.

"Life is a cycle and the NBA is a cycle," Gasol said. "There's ups and there's downs and every year seems like there's a little bit of a different situation. [Lowered expectations] doesn't mean much to me because we've been in that position where there's been high expectations around us, like last year for instance, and it was a failure. Let's see if we can make these low expectations for ourselves a successful season and other teams that will have high expectations will fail."

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni is embracing the same promise-low, deliver-high approach.

"Expectations are to play better than what everybody thinks you can play and be a unit and win more games than anybody thinks you can win," D'Antoni said. "Now, what does that translate to? We'll see. You never know how good guys are. They become famous when they win. So, we got to win. They're not famous yet, but we'll see."

The opposite of fame when it comes to the NBA is irrelevancy. No one on the Lakers is ready to accept being classified as out of it before the first ball has been tipped.

"We got a lot of guys that in many ways have been written off," Nash said. "Young and old. Obviously a lot of people see me at the end of the road and see a lot of our acquisitions this year as guys that couldn't last in certain situations, that were let go or bounced around from team to team. So for us it's a matter of trying to find a way to play together, create an identity so we can make each other better and to play with a little chip on our shoulder and find that little bit of 'extra' between us that maybe we don't have individually."