Mike D'Antoni sick of complaints

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol has made it clear in recent days that he still isn't comfortable with his role in coach Mike D'Antoni's offense.

But D'Antoni says he's heard it all before, and to him it's getting old.

"The biggest thing is, everybody, to a man, we've just got to play harder and worry about things less," D'Antoni said after the team's morning shootaround in advance of Friday night's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. "Hopefully we do that tonight."

Asked specifically about Gasol's desire to be used more in the post, where he feels most comfortable and effective, D'Antoni said, "That's one thing. If they just don't want to do it that way, then you have to accept it or not. But there's no reason to not play hard."

D'Antoni expanded on his stance before the game.

"We have a system that we play, and our bigs are urged every day to put themselves in every play and to roll hard every play, to post up every play, and to get the ball inside," D'Antoni said. "That's the best thing we can do. And so it's up to them to put themselves in the play. The more energy you bring to the game, the more you're going to get the ball. That's always been the case, and if you don't have the energy, then you probably won't get the ball much. So, if they supply the energy, they'll get the ball and then we'll go from there."

In pick-and-roll situations, Gasol frequently has taken it upon himself to pop out for a jump shot after setting the screen, rather than roll to the hoop, which D'Antoni said is not how the team coaches him to play.

"I guess that's what he wants to do," D'Antoni said. "He does well doing it, but he knows our preference is to dive and post up."

D'Antoni, credited as being an innovator on offense in the modern NBA, said Gasol has to be willing to adapt.

"Basketball has changed, and the way the game is played has changed," D'Antoni said. "We have a system that works and most of the time we run that system. Again, we spend 90 percent of the time talking about offense when our problem is defense and our problem is toughness, and that's where we got to get to. Sometimes we don't play hard enough, and if we get that, you know what? The other stuff works out. It's amazing how it works out."

Gasol, 33, is shooting a career-low 41.7 percent from the field and averaging just 14.4 points per game, well below his career numbers of 18.3 points a game and 51.5 percent shooting.

At issue seems to be what's been at issue the past three seasons -- where Gasol is receiving passes and how he is being used in the offense.

"The fact that I'm not getting the ball in the post affects directly my aggressiveness," Gasol told the Los Angeles Times this week. "When I'm not getting the ball where I want to, where I'm most effective, where I can bang guys and utilize my skill, that affects my aggressiveness and overall intensity."

Those comments came on the heels of an NBA.com story earlier in the week in which Gasol acknowledged that he's intrigued by a return to his NBA roots in Memphis and playing alongside brother Marc Gasol with the Grizzlies.

"It's appealing," Gasol told NBA.com when asked about returning to Memphis after he becomes a free agent this summer. "One of the best centers in the NBA, one of the best interior players, is my brother. There's a lot of attractive factors there. But who knows if that's even a possibility or if that will ever happen.

"Right now, I'm just trying to focus on [the Lakers' opponents] and staying healthy and playing a very successful year so this team and others will have the certainty and the confidence that I am a difference-maker, that I am an elite player and I have a lot of years in me."

According to Synergy Sports, the Lakers are averaging a league-low 0.67 points per possession on post-up plays, prompting D'Antoni to tell the Times, "I can't lie to him. ... Our numbers tell us the worst thing we do is post up."

D'Antoni decided to start Jordan Hill alongside Gasol on Friday to change the lineup dynamic.

But he's pretty clear on what he thinks needs to change.

"He'll get through it," D'Antoni said of Gasol. "The message is the same to everybody: Just play hard, and we'll figure it out. If you don't play hard, it's hard to figure out because you don't know what works and what doesn't. I think everybody has the same message, and we keep beating it in during practice. Every film session we show them what we want, and hopefully they'll do it."

Asked if talking about being uncomfortable sometimes perpetuates that reality, D'Antoni said, "Absolutely. It's also a nice excuse to not play hard. That's a classic: 'Well, I don't know what I'm supposed to do.'

"Well, you don't have trouble getting up to the pay stub line. They know what to do there to get the check. So, obviously, you know what to do. They will."

ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.

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