T.J. SIMERS

Lakers' Mike D'Antoni puts accent on positive after going negative

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"There's no reason why he can't fit. Ideally, maybe you would like Jesse Owens, a guy who can run, but Pau is going to be a big part of what we're going to do."

But can he run enough?

"He's not crippled or anything; we're not going to be seven seconds or less," D'Antoni says. "That's not just Pau — that's a lot of guys. But you just don't see a player as smart as he is, as talented as he is and as big as he is. I've got to reexamine myself if I can't play with Pau Gasol."

Edit out all the "shucks" and "golly gee whizzes," and I don't know how much clearer D'Antoni can make it.

Despite all the rumors, he's got Gasol going nowhere but up and down the court.

We'll learn in time if he can be believed when he speaks.

I STOPPED by Clippers headquarters to see if Blake Griffin had shown up. He certainly didn't for Monday night's game with New Orleans.

Griffin shot one for nine before fouling out in the worst game of his young professional career.

So how does a 23-year-old, who is expected to leap tall buildings in a single bound, handle such disappointment?

"I'm lucky," he says. "I've been around Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill. What team has three guys like that who deal with things so well?

"When they have below-average games, they just remain even-keel. That's something I couldn't deal with well before last year, but I'm lucky to be surrounded by such players."

When Griffin made his way to the bench after fouling out against the Hornets, Lamar Odom put an arm around him to remind Griffin he wasn't alone.

"There's still a thing where you don't want to let people down," Griffin says. "The people that hate you are going to hate you no matter what, but it's more about letting our fans down. And I don't like to do that."

As bad a night as he had, Griffin still met his media obligations and offered no excuses for his poor showing.

"When I came out of the game it was no time to be selfish," he says. "I wanted to see if we could pull it out. It's on my drive home when I got tough on myself and thought about all the mistakes I made. And there were a lot of them.

"Believe me, I'm harder on myself than anyone, including the media."

I do love a challenge, but I also like a young man who knows how to handle success and failure as a pro.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

Twitter: @LATimesTJSimers

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