Inactives for Tonight’s Games:
Spurs: Damon Stoudamire, DeMarr Johnson, Ian Mahinmi
Lakers: Coby Karl, Ira Newble, Andrew Bynum
The fans lustily boo the officials when they’re images are put up on the big screen. This can be squarely attributed to Joey Crawford and the run in he had with Tim Duncan last season when Joey tossed Duncan from a game for laughing. Crawford was suspended and Duncan was fined. Crawford is a veteran official who has been around long enough for this to be a non-issue tonight, but I’m sure the crowd won’t see it that way.
The Lakers jump out to a quick 10-4 lead three minutes into the game that causes Coach Popovich to call an early TO to talk to his troops. Balanced scoring and easy baskets so far for the Purple & Gold. Vladi is involved early with a dunk on the fast break and a 17-footer.
Three minutes after the first Spurs timeout of the evening comes the second and Pop is animated, slapping his head in a “THINK!!!” motion as his team huddles around. The ball movement for the Lakers is dramatically improved from Game 3. They’re also double teaming Duncan much earlier than in previous games and we get our first taste of Kobe defending Manu this series. 18-8 Lakers.
Odom has been very careful throughout the series to not jump out on Parker too far when he goes around the pick and roll, thus not allowing him to split the defenders and have an easy path to the rack–Pau has not been as careful. Parker was given way too much space to fly to the middle and Lamar pays the price as he tries to help with his second foul of the game. Fish also picks up a quick second foul with three minutes remaining in the first quarter. We haven’t seen either of these guys in real foul trouble since games three and four in Utah. Those games ended in Lakers losses, but right now they lead 25-17 as Walton and Farmar are in for the foul prone.
Duncan has been able to exploit the early doubles by finding open three-point shots for his teammates, but they haven’t been able to burn the Lakers with any of them, shooting just one of five from behind the arc. On the flip side, when left alone in single coverage, Pau has (once again) been having a lot of trouble with Timmy. On the offensive end Gasol has six-points, but took five shots to get there and seems a bit anxious.
Jordan Farmar continues to be matched up against Brent Barry as the Lakers look for other more important matchups like Vujacic on Ginobili. Jordan’s giving up seven-inchs there, but does have about 15-years of youth on his side.
The second unit has started the quarter by pushing the first quarter Lakers lead from five to nine points in the first 2:27 of the quarter after a switch by Farmar and Odom led to an easy Walton dunk. 34-25 Lakers.
Lamar picks up his third at the 8:07 mark and will be anchored to the bench for the rest of the half. Vladi enters for LO and Kobe relieves Luke.
How does Sasha not have a shot attempt when he’s been in there for more than 9 minutes?
After a well played first quarter Kobe is pitching an 0-4 second frame and forcing a lot of stuff against Bowen.
The rebounding edge is in heavy favor of the visiting team (24-13 including a 9-2 edge on the offensive glass), but the foul attempts heavily favor the home team (17-8). 45-43 Lakers.
Trevor Ariza making a cameo appearance for the final 23.6 seconds of the half. It truly is a cameo as Trevor takes a spot in the far corner and watches Kobe iso Manu for a bucket at the free throw line to close the half. 53-47 Lakers.
The main sources of offense off the bench for both teams–Ginobili & Vujacic–remain a combined 0-6 for zero points through the first half.
Odom, Fisher, & Vujacic all carry three fouls into the half with the first two seeing limited minutes because of those fouls.
Luke Walton has missed a couple of easy ones around the basket, but also has nine points and four boards to be the high point man off the Lakers bench.
The game has seen the Lakers jump out to some exorbitant leads. 14 here, 10 there, but the Spurs continually fight back and to close the gap, even tying the game at twice near the end of the second. The Spurs aren’t a team that goes away when they’re playing in the AT&T Center.
Ginobili starts the half for the Spurs, but it’s Derek Fisher who gets the first bucket. Contributions from him and Lamar will be big for the Purple & Gold in the second half.
Lamar is finally figuring out that, much like the Utah series, he can get to the rack pretty much anytime he wants. The human mismatch that is Odom is much too quick for Oberto or Duncan or Horry or anyone else the Spurs toss at him.
DFish picks up his fourth foul by slapping Tim Duncan on the arm from 21 feet out with one left on the shot clock. Are you really worried about Tim Duncan from that deep and the clock ticking down? Bad move from the savvy vet. Farmar enters with four minutes to go in the quarter.
The Spurs knot it up at 67 before a a long rebound finds Kobe up ahead of the break for an exclamation point reverse dunk that forces a shower of boos from the San Antonio faithful. The Spurs still have yet to take the lead in this game, but with Ginobili playing the role of the Invisible Man you feel like the Lakers should be ahead by more.
Ginobili’s first points of the contest come from the free throw line and he only got there because the Lakers were in the penalty.
Every time Kobe touches the ball he’s going for the “in-your-face” three or dunk. The past two possessions have seen him miss the three, but get the dunk.
Four point play for Sasha. I need to look up how many of those he’s got this year, it’s got to be near the league lead.
The Lakers win the quarter for the third time tonight, if only by the slight margin of 24-23, for the 77-70 lead. Looking at the next 12-minutes with a series wide lens you could say that LA just needs to be six points better than the Spurs to take a stranglehold on this best of seven with two more games in LA. If they’re not then they guarantee themselves another trip back to beautiful San Antonio and the likelihood of a Game 7. That’s a lot riding on 12 minutes.
Park and Duncan are doing what they do, but the 18-points Brent Barry has in the first 38-minutes of tonight’s ballgame have carried the Spurs in Manu Ginobili’s absence. It’s also the most he’s scored since the November 21st contest against the Orlando Magic. Barry’s fourth long ball of the night closes the gap to 77-75 Lakers.
After a monster jam, Odom follows it up with another quickness move right around Oberto for a lefty layup and the and one free throw to push the Lakers lead to 86-79. Anytime you want Lamar, anytime you want.
A Kobe tomahawk caps a 7-0 run Lakers run before Coach Pop calls a timeout.
Lamar Odom’s free throw shooting was atrocious in Game 3, but tonight he’s been fantastic at 8-9 and keeps pushing the Spurs further into the hole at 93-86 with just 56.5 left to play. Odom was limited greatly by foul trouble tonight, but he’s still turned in a nice 16-9 stat line. No Brent Barry type numbers, but it might just be good enough to get the job done.
With just a two point deficit the Spurs choose not to foul with the shot clock four seconds ahead of the game clock. Fish’s airball somehow doesn’t end up hurting the Lakers as it bounces off Horry’s leg and returns possession to the visitors with 5.6 seconds to play. The Lakers have been killing the offensive boards all night long, but that was a gift.
2 point lead and 2.1 seconds to play. Brent Barry is having the game of his life. Then you’ve got the big three. A lot of options and just one shot to go around.
Barry with a DEEP three that hits nothing but air. Lakers win 93-91 and lead the series 3-1.