The Broom Looms: Spurs Rout Depleted Lakers
San Antonio 120, Los Angeles Lakers 89
San Antonio leads series 3-0
That went about how I expected.
Well, maybe not quite what I expected. I was not expecting the worst loss in Lakers playoff history. But I’ll take it.
This was a complete and utter dominating performance by the Spurs. Except for one stretch bridging the halves when the Lakers scored on 9 of 12 possessions, this game was a non-starter. I don’t even feel like I need to discuss anything.
But that’s what we do on this site, so I will.
Coming into this series, the talk was of the Lakers size advantage, and how the big men inside could really control the series. But you know who the best big man in this series is? Tim Duncan. And it’s not even close. (The second best big man? Pau. But the Lakers have no idea how to use him properly.) For all the physical gifts Dwight possesses, he has no mental acumen for the game, no ability to fully utilize his physical superiority. It’s such a pleasure watching Duncan just own him on both ends of the floor, knowing that it takes very little to frustrate Howard and take him completely out of the game mentally.
The 3rd string starting back court for the Lakers actually played decently, scoring more than you might expect. Until you realize that they were often shooting in an open gym, as the Spurs were doing everything short of actually setting up camp underneath the basket to stop the inside game. Howard consistently saw triple (and sometimes quadruple) teams, and, as previously discussed, often didn’t see the correct pass out. Or, when he did, the Lakers shooters just couldn’t convert enough.
The game was still within shouting distance at the half, but a quick start to the 3rd more or less settled it, and it was just a gentle cruise to the finish line.
The Spurs now have a real opportunity to finish off the sweep and get a lot of rest and healing heading into the second round.
Some more thoughts from the game and the series thus far:
–Parker looked the best he’s looked all playoffs. His shot is finally coming back, and his explosion was good. Finish off the series in Game 4 and get him 5 days of good recovery.
–Danny Green has looked hapless for these first 3 games. He’s not even getting shots, let alone hitting them. So it was good to see him get some makes in garbage time and perhaps get a little rhythm and confidence.
–Forget about back-up PG, Cory Joseph might be our third best guard right now overall. With Neal and Green struggling on both ends of the court, Joseph is playing smart, pesky defense, running the offense well, and making a lot of wide open shots. And he rebounds fantastically for a guard. If he was a few inches taller, I’d have him starting.
–Leonard continues to have a quiet series, but still shows glimpses of what he can do when needed. In the third quarter, as the Lakers went small, we ran him down in the post 2 or 3 times, and scored every time. If we can make other teams pay for putting a smaller player on him, that’s a very good thing.
–Did you see Duncan with the alley oop? Did you know he turned 37 yesterday? Have you ever seen him convert an alley oop like that in his entire career?
–Splitter went down late with what appears to be a twisted ankle. Again, this just highlights the fragile nature of the playoffs and health. He is a huge piece of the Spurs puzzle, and we can ill afford to miss him for too long. Hopefully it’s not too serious, and we can finish off the Lakers in Game 4, and get Tiago a good week of rest and recovery before Round 2 starts.
Watching the end of the Nuggets-Warriors game was exciting. But both of these teams are very young, and had a lot of execution and poise problems down the stretch. I think either team will be tough in a series, but ultimately would not be able to beat the Spurs 4 out of 7 because of this. Here’s to a 7-game series and lots of rest and preparation for the Spurs!
Game 4 is Sunday evening in Los Angeles.
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