Shaky, spiraling, injured. All of these adjectives were used to describe the San Antonio Spurs coming into the playoffs, and the Spurs with today’s game were hoping to erase those thoughts and start the long arduous march to number 5. In the early going the Spurs established their dominance through the franchise, Tim Duncan. Duncan scored often on Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard as they provided little resistance. The Lakers battled valiantly till Manu Ginobili entered the game and hitting a three on his first attempt. From there the teams landed blow after blow on each other as the Spurs lead by 8 at the half, the second half showed the Lakers closing the gap a bit but then Manu Ginobili again came in and took control pushing the lead out to 13. From there the Spurs cruised to a 12 point victory and took a very important 1game to none lead. The Spurs shook off the cobwebs and showed many encouraging signs and hopefully they capitalize into game 2 Wednesday night
Whos hot: Manu Ginobili. Seriously, anyone else? 18 points in 18 minutes. Dagger threes,tough finishes, he did it all. He was vintage Manu on this day and was a giant reason the Spurs came away with the W.
Whos not: Tiago Splitter. In a series where him and Tim being on the court together is almost essential to victory, Tiago had a horrible game shooting 0 of 4 and missing easy shots and playing very soft. an extremely disappointing outing.
Turning Point: The Lakers had cut the score to 54-50 the Spurs went back and slowly got the lead back out with help from Manu Ginoboli at the free throw line, Duncan from the stripe, Matt Bonner of all people calmly sinking 2 as well, then a Ginobli personal 8 point run and the Spurs put the game away for good up 13 at the end of three never looking back.
Up Next: The two teams get a couple of much needed days off as they meet up again Wednesday night, April 24th, 8:30 central time, in the AT&T Center.
Tony Parker: 18 points 37 minutes, 8 of 21 shooting, 3 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals
Well, its a start. Parker looked a lot better than the last time the two teams met up in Los Angeles, and looked better than he has lately. That said he still missed a lot of shots that he makes, tear drops, lay ins. He looked like rookie Tony Parker who had trouble finishing around the rim. He struggled at times when Steve Blake guarded him, sometimes losing the ball in traffic or turning it over out of bounds. If the Spurs are to get to where they want to go, Tony Parker has got to make his open shots and take better care of the basketball.
Danny Green 6 points, 25 mins, 2 of 6 shooting, 4 rebounds, 1 steal
Another young Spur, another disappointment. However, he wasn’t a total disappointment as in the 4th quarter he had a big three pointer made on a beautiful pin down set usually made for Duncan, however Parker penetrated and Green swished the three. Also Green deftly stole the ball from Gasol stealing not only possession but valuable time in crunch time for the offense. His defense was ok, although he continued to cheat off his man, and his man continued to make a shot here and there, aka Steve Nash in the corner. If Green can hit one more two more shots and stay on his man, he will be just fine.
Kawhi Leonard 8 points, 35 minutes, 3 of 8 shooting, 11 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals, 2 assists
Kawhi Leonard had a solid game on the day. His shooting was OK, although he missed many open shots that he makes normally. His defense was its normal high quality self, holding Ron Artest to 2 of 9 shooting and 5 points. Artest making threes, which he usually does vs the Spurs, would become a giant problem, however Leonard kept him quiet. The high point being a block on a three and then beating Artest down the court and putting in a layup. While Artest is older, his defense is still high quality and it will be difficult for Leonard to have giant games, hi making his shots any time he’s able to get loose is paramount to winning this series.
Tiago Splitter 2 points, 28 minutes, 0 of 4 shooting, 4 rebounds, 4 assists
Tiago Splitter had a confounding game. His defense was ok. His passing was fantastic on the offensive end. His rebounding was mediocre. The problem was he was playing so soft and trying to draw fouls on Howard and Gasol and that affected his offensive game. This is playoff basketball, and you can’t play to contact, you have to just play. Playing to contact in the playoffs is murder, playing to contact against the Lakers in the playoffs? Vigo the Carpathian like assassination.
Tim Duncan 17 points, 34 minutes, 6 of 15 shooting, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals
Duncan in the first half was vintage Tim Duncan. He was spinning, fading away, and driving. On defense he pushed Howard to uncomfortable spots, had a hand in Gasol’s face when he shot. Duncan was fantastic on defense. The second half was a different story, his shot disappeared, his defense was soid however it lacked a step. Duncan has looked healthy therefore I’m just going to chalk it up to an off half.
Grade B +
Bench 40 points, 13 of 31, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block, 3 steals,
Now that’s a whole lot better. For a defense that has struggled for the month of April, it was clear it missed Manu Ginobili greatly, who contributed a ridiculous 18 points in 18 minutes. He was not alone in good performances as Matt Bonner came from no where and played solid defense and contributed a huge 10 points and 5 rebounds. Gary Neal started solid with some floaters in the paint however became YOLO Gary again putting up rushed and bad three pointers. The other giant plus was Corey Joseph, who surprised all when he was first off the bench instead of Nando De Colo, but showed why immediately contributing great defense, solid offense witha couple of mid range jumpers, and good leadership as he got the team into its sets quite quickly. If he can keep this up and 5 minutes to his 10 a game, it would be huge for Tony Parker, his health, and the prospects of the Spurs down the road.
Grade A +