A: Kobe Bryant
Bryant, already shooting at career high rate on 2-pointers, 3-pointers and free throws heading into the game, put together a balanced line in which he scored 1.47 points per field goal attempt: doubly impressive considering he only created two free throws in 38 minutes. Bryant, sans a defensive breakdown on the final Spurs possession in which he cheated, as Spurs point guard Tony Parker mentioned postgame, leaving Danny Green an inkling of space behind the arc. It was a brilliant play call that utilized Bryant’s tendency to cheat while opening up space for one of the league’s premier shooters.
B: Tony Parker
Parker (team-high 19 points and seven assists) gets the nod over Tim Duncan, who was a rebound short of another double-double, solely because this was Parker’s first decent game this season. It’s true that most of his damage was done in the first quarter — eight points on 4-of-6 shooting — but he did account for eight of San Antonio’s final 11 points, including a putback layup where the 6-foot-2 point guard skirted by the sea of big bodies for a difficult two points.
C: Danny Green
For the sake of this piece, Green has to be mentioned even though he probably played better than the C designation. He missed eight of 12 shots, sure, but seven of those attempts were 3-pointers, meaning that he was capitalizing on the majority of his attempts. His game-winning 3-pointer with 9.3 seconds remaining over the outstretched arm of Kobe Bryant, a 12-time member of the All-Defensive team, warrants at least a passing grade.
D: Pau Gasol
Aside from the ill-advised corner 3-pointer at the end of the fourth —
he made seven corner 3′s all last season — Gasol just wasn’t effective in the Lakers’ offense. (It should be noted, however, that the ball denial of Kawhi Leonard, the help defense of Tiago Splitter and Green may have forced Gasol to salvage the game with a 3-pointer.)
Gasol notched his fourth double-double in the loss, but he missed seven of 10 attempts to just reach 10 points.
F: Manu Ginobili
He missed, by my official count, at least three chances to exploit the big man in the pick-and-roll, settling for long 2-pointers instead. He only earned 19 minutes as a result, including a notable omission from the crunch-time lineup. Ginobili was right: He needs practice — desperately, after yet another clunker.