When you look at the regular season schedule, it’s hard to remember the last time the Spurs played a complete game on both sides of the ball. And then Wednesday night happened.
The San Antonio Spurs did their job by protecting homecourt, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 102-91, to take a 2-0 lead in the 1st round of the playoffs. The Spurs were led by their French import, Tony Parker, who had 28 points (15 in the 3rd quarter), along with 4 rebounds and 7 assists. Duncan and Leonard also added 16 a piece for San Antonio.
This game was a tale of two halves. We knew both teams would shoot better coming into Game 2, but the Spurs defensive intensity was lacking, while Mike D’Antoni established Dwight Howard early and often against the Spurs bigs, getting Splitter into foul trouble. The strong play of Kawhi Leonard on offense kept the Spurs afloat, while Matt Bonner (Seriously, Matt Bonner) helped to contain Howard as much as possible.
The Lakers seemed poised with two minutes left in the second, until Manu Ginobili happened. Ginobili scored or assisted on four straight plays (including this beautiful Kawhi Leonard slam), leading the Spurs on an 8-2 to end the half up 56-48.
With Dwight Howard getting into foul trouble early in the 3rd quarter, the Spurs absolutely blew the door open on Los Angeles. Without the interior threat of Howard, vintage Tony Parker was on display, getting to the rim at will and drawing contact to get to the free throw line. The fourth quarter was more of the same, as Howard’s defensive aggresiveness was limited by foul trouble, letting Parker add another 9 points in the final quarter.
It will be a quick turnaround for the Spurs, as Game 3 is in Los Angeles on Friday night.
Two more wins to advance and fourteen wins to the ultimate goal. Go Spurs Go.
- Get used to the grey alternate jerseys, as apparently they’re here to stay for the playoffs as the Spurs de facto home jersey. Not complaining though, the Spurs only lost one game in the alternate uniform (March 31st versus the Miami Heat.)
- In this series, the Spurs have a combined 17 turnovers in two games, which has resulted into 21 Laker points. On the other hand, the Lakers have given up 30 points on a combined 31 turnovers.
- Mike D’Antoni becomes the first head coach in Los Angeles Lakers HISTORY to lose his first 2 career playoff games. Ladies and gentlemen, Gregg Popovich.
- Matt Bonner’s consistency this series is incredible. Someone on Twitter suggested that maybe the 3-point shooting contest got him over his playoff fright, and that honestly wouldn’t surprise me. But Bonner’s defense and hustle has been outstanding. The Red Mamba averages 10 points and 5 rebounds in 29 minutes. He’s also a +24 (PLUS TWENTY FOUR) when he’s on the floor in this series.
- The Spurs only attempted fourteen 3-pointers tonight, but shot 50% from beyond the arch for the first time since March 27th versus the Nuggets (10/15 – 67%).
- Injuries continue to pile on for the Lakers. Jordan Hill was able to return to action tonight in a limited capacity. But the backcourt took another hit with Jodie Meeks already sidelined, Steve Nash hurting and now Steve Blake’s hamstring injury. From ESPNLA’s beat writer, Dave McMenamin:
LAL injury report: Nash scheduled for another epidural Thursday. Blake will receive an ultrasound on his hamstring. Meeks MRI on ankle Fri
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) April 25, 2013