Lakers 92, Spurs 83: Running Diary

60000226Lakers – Spurs Gameday Page
We took a look at the Lakers – Spurs contest in San Antonio while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked to win for the seventh straight time and fourth straight on the road.

Inactives
Lakers: Luke Walton (back)
Spurs: Tony Parker (hand)

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and Gasol
Spurs: George Hill, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, Tim Duncan, Antonio McDyess

Knocking Down the Three-Pointer
As Phil Jackson explained before the game, there’s a reason the Lakers don’t shoot threes particularly well during the regular season … it’s not part of the focus:

We were always a late three-point shooting team. We don’t spend a lot of time parking guys in corners like a lot of teams do because we have a different kind of offense. Our three-point shots come out of a different type of action. We do focus on it in the later part of the season. I think guys get their legs and becoming better shooters as the season goes on, so we look forward to some guys hitting their stride a little bit now.

For the full pregame preview, CLICK HERE.

60000229First Quarter
7:28 Even with Andrew Bynum out for the second straight game (strained Achilles), L.A. has a plethora of low post options, including Ron Artest, who used an up-and-under move around Richard Jefferson for hoop No. 1. On the next possession, Lamar Odom drove right around Antonio McDyess and a too-late-to-help Tim Duncan for a lefty layup. Minutes later, Odom added a tough layup amidst traffic and then a two-handed dunk after Kobe Bryant’s bullet pass to put L.A. up 10-6, looking good early. Speaking of Kobe … he became the NBA’s 12th all-time leading scorer with a jumper, allowing him to surpass Alex English.

4:00 It wasn’t 1990′s Grant Hill, but George Hill who nailed back-to-back threes to put the Spurs up 21-14 as the Lakers went suddenly Pacific-Ocean-in-December cold from the field. Ginobili had hit back-to-back threes himself a minute earlier, giving San Antonio 12 quick points from distance, not exactly what the Lakers had in mind.

0:01.5 Spurred on by some newfound energy in the form of Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar and D.J. Mbenga on D, L.A. kept the Spurs from scoring in the final two minutes while going on a 6-0 run capped by a beautiful play from Odom. First, LO swatted Jefferson near the rim, then collected the ball and sprinted up the court for a driving right-handed layup just before the quarter closed. In other Lamar news, he was working out with his personal trainer at the team hotel today (as is customary) as I was, and looked at the TV while ESPN’s SportsNation discussed the Kim Kardashian’s (Odom’s sister in law) reported break up from Saints RB Reggie Bush.

59265495Second Quarter
7:04 The Spurs almost immediately reclaimed the momentum L.A. had gained out of the first, getting two more three-pointers from Ginobili and Matt Bonner before a Kobe layup and Jordan Farmar three-pointer cut the deficit to five. By the way, a few of us went to a movie in downtown San Antonio last night for $4.00. FYI.

4:30 Phil Jackson channeled Jack Nicholson on the stand in “A Few Good Men” when Pau got stripped by Hill after a rebound. Not a good thing. The Spaniard, who’d been so good of late, had a rough start with four points and four boards, but he held Duncan to 1-of-5 shooting for just two points on defense.

0:10.8 After Farmar’s three cut San Antonio’s lead to just one with 2:25 remaining, the Lakers managed just two points for the rest of the half and the Spurs closed with a 6-0 run to take a 48-41 margin into the halftime tunnel. The Lakers shot 43.9 percent from the field, led by 12 points from Odom and 10 from Bryant plus eight off the bench from Farmar. The Spurs got 32 of their 48 points from Hill (20) and Ginobili (12).

60000235Third Quarter
8:57 After a solid all-around first half, Artest picked the Lakers up for a few minutes to start the third, doing the following in sequence: nailing a three, stealing the ball from Jefferson and feeding Gasol with a nice pass leading to two free throws. In the process, L.A. cut the Spurs lead to two.

5:09 You’re familiar with the “Tim Duncan Face” popularized in writing by ESPN’s Bill Simmons, right? It’s basically the “I’ve never committed a foul, ever!” look, and we saw a big one as Artest took him to the rim in transition … but Duncan ended up being right as the foul was charged to Bonner. Two free throws still resulted two possessions after Artest had grabbed his eighth rebound and put it back for two points, and he followed with yet another great play by picking Ginobili’s pocket and finishing a layup at the other end.

0:10.7 L.A. got a big boost from Shannon Brown’s back-to-back 3-pointers in a 38-second stretch, then another from Odom, who nailed his own three (L.A.’s fifth of the quarter) then drew a foul and hit both free throws with 10 seconds remaining to cap a 30-18 quarter. L.A. had thus turned a 7-point halftime deficit into a 5-point lead. Artest was the best player on the floor in the period while Bryant got some additional rest.

60000234Fourth Quarter
8:52 It wasn’t just Brown giving L.A. a bench boost from three as Farmar nailed his third of the game to put L.A. up 75-73 after a 7-0 Spurs run to start the quarter. That made the two backup guards 5-of-6 from distance, a significant bench boost that Jackson requested before the game.

3:29 A championship-worthy 16-3 run from L.A. was capped by a wide-open Kobe three in the corner that made it 87-76 Lakers. The Purple and Gold were fantastic on defense, spurred on by the everywhere-at-once Artest, whose fourth steal led to the Bryant triple. It was the second three of that stretch for Kobe, who then nailed a baseline jumper to reach 24 points.

0:39.8 A solid individual effort from Odom was capped by his layup for L.A.’s final points, getting him to 19 points with 13 rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal as the Lakers emerged with a 92-83 victory. The Lakers held the Spurs to only 35 second half points, and got a gem of an all-around game from Artest, who finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, five steals, three assists and a block.

The win marks L.A.’s seventh straight overall and fourth straight on the road leading into Friday night’s contest in Oklahoma City. Until then, your numbers:

POSTGAME NUMBERS
5 Steals for Ron Artest, which actually seems low for how active and intimidating he was on defense throughout an entirely stellar evening. He added 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists and one block.

6 Points for Tim Duncan on 2-of-11 shooting, thanks in part to the defensive effort of Pau Gasol. The Spaniard swatted two of Duncan’s shots in 1-on-1 situations and grabbed 12 rebounds while taking only 11 shots, making four, for 10 points.

10 Three-pointers nailed by the Lakers, including three from Jordan Farmar and two from Shannon Brown off the bench.

20 Points in the first half for George Hill, helping the Spurs build a 7-point lead at the break. Hill, however, managed just one point in the second half.

24 Points to lead L.A. on only 16 shots for Kobe Bryant, who made 11 including two huge 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter. Bryant played distributor with five assists in the first three quarter, then scored 10 in the fourth to take the Lakers home.