We've seen Pau Gasol locked in before. This past Monday against the Rockets, Gasol scored 18 points in the first quarter and generally looked like he could whatever he wanted against Houston's front line. The game against the Buckets on Saturday night got off to a similar start: Gasol scored seven points before Milwaukee had scored at all. This time, though, the Bulls kept feeding Pau and the result was the best scoring night of a Hall of Fame career.
Gasol had 20 at the end of the first quarter, 28 by the half and 40 by the time the fourth quarter began. Milwaukee started out with Zaza Pachulia on him, then tried Jared Dudley, for some reason. It didn't matter if the Bucks conceded a long two to Gasol or double teamed him inside. Whatever Milwaukee tried did not work.
Gasol ended with 46 points and 18 rebounds, becoming only the fourth player to hit those plateaus since 1999-2000. The other three? Shaq, Kevin Durant and Chris Webber. Not bad company. Let's not forget how incredible it is that Pau did this as an old man:
Pau Gasol is the only player in the last 30 years to post 46 points and 18 rebounds in a game at age 34 or higher.— K.C. Johnson (@KCJHoop) January 11, 2015
When you consider the best big men of the last 20 years, Gasol is right there. He's had a brilliant career and it's been a privilege to watch him go to work up close this season. It's become apparent that he had more left in the tank than anyone could have imagined. For under $8 million this season, he has to be one of the best bargains in the league.
At this point, you just hope that he's still fresh for the playoffs.