SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Who needs a players meeting?
Even with Jimmy Butler missing his first game of the season, sidelined with the same sore left knee he banged up late in Utah Monday night, the Bulls still managed to hold off the Kings Wednesday night, beating them, 107-102, at the Sleep Train Arena.
Thanks to a career-high 24 points from E’Twaun Moore, as well as 21 points from Derrick Rose, the Bulls ended a two-game losing streak, and at least for the time being silenced the talk about a sinking ship that needed a Kumbaya moment.
Not that at least one Bulls player would be against that.
“I’m a fan of [meetings], especially when things aren’t going … you can put things on the table, discuss them as a group,’’ veteran Pau Gasol said of a team meeting. “[It can] come from the top, come from the coaching staff or the leaders of the team where they say, ‘Hey, this can’t go on or we need to discuss this.’ It’s just like companies when they have meetings to analyze and evaluate, ‘Hey, what are we doing guys? What are you doing right? What are you doing wrong? Let’s just talk about how we’re doing and how can we be better.’ ‘’
That wasn’t all Gasol said on Wednesday, however.
With the Bulls sitting at an underachieving 27-21 with three games still left on this west coast swing, Gasol pulled the curtain back on what he really felt was ailing this team from being a consistent threat in the Eastern Conference.
It had a lot to do with selfishness and players having individual agendas.
“What’s missing? That’s hard, hard to pinpoint,’’ Gasol first said. “When you look at a situation there’s always an accumulation of factors. Some can be discussed, some are hard to discuss.’’
That didn’t stop Gasol from not only discussing it, but diving head-on into it.
“At the end of the day we all have to look ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves, ‘Are we doing enough? Are we doing enough to contribute? Am I worrying about the right things? Am I worrying about the collective or am I just worried about what I do on the floor or the shots that I take, how much am I scoring, how much am I playing?’ ‘’ Gasol said. “All those things are the wrong approach to winning, so I think if we are able and capable of changing that approach individually and collectively, I think we’ll be in a better place.
“Yes, we have injuries that are substantial and important, but at the same time there are a lot of teams that go through injuries, and some teams have suffered more than others, but I think our issue is more of that maturity issue or that mental togetherness that we need to bring every single night. Even when we have been healthy we’ve lost games and didn’t play the way we should have.’’
Gasol was then asked if the habit of getting selfish in games was too hard to break, especially when a team has already played half the season with that mentality, and said, “I mean habits are hard to break. It doesn’t happen overnight, but you can build on them, you can build out of them. I think that’s a conscience effort that needs to happen, and it can happen.
“Understanding what do I have to do personally and individually for the better of the team, that’s when things start to work out and things happen the better way for you.’’