The difference between the 2010 NBA champion Lakers and the humiliated team that slinked away from the second round of the playoffs in 2011 was power forward Pau Gasol, a stud during their title run but a dud one postseason later.

You knew it.

He knew it.

Every basketball fan on the planet knew it, too.

Gasol looked distracted, played distracted and the Lakers fell in embarrassing fashion in four games to the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks in the second round last May. There were rumors of a romantic breakup, later denied.