We broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 108-105 loss at San Antonio:
Paint points for the Lakers, despite missing their three top big men – Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill – for the second straight game. By holding the Spurs to only 40 paint points despite the presence of 7-footers Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter, the Lakers held a plus-8 advantage inside. Robert Sacre, Earl Clark (more on him shortly) and Antawn Jamison did a good job of pushing Duncan and Splitter away from the rim before the catch.
Points for Clark, a career-high, in 27 minutes off the bench. The 6-foot-10 forward also set a career-high with 13 boards, good for the second double-double he’s ever posted. Clark showed a bit of everything in this one, displaying a nice handle in transition, hitting a three, scoring with post moves and playing strong D. After the game, I asked Clark if he grew up playing guard, and he relayed that he did in fact play in the backcourt until a big growth spurt after eighth grade and through high school took him from 5-10 to 6-10. So he played up front in Louisville, but kept the handle and guard skills he learned growing up.
“Earl Clark was phenomenal,” said Mike D’Antoni. “Hopefully we found something there. If we play with that effort and with that team sense of chemistry then we’re going to win a lot of games.”
Three-pointers made for the Spurs, nine coming in the second half and five of them in the fourth quarter, opening at most a 17-point lead. They seemed to have a three-point answer to every Lakers push. Stephen Jackson drained three triples in a span of less than three minutes in the fourth (9:49, 7:32 and 7:07), and drained five in the game, before being ejected amidst a furious Lakers comeback moments later.
Steals for Metta World Peace, his energy and activity consistent throughout the game. In the two-game Texas trip, World Peace totaled 47 points, 14 rebounds and 11 steals, while shooting 52.8 percent from the floor. He’s also hitting 50 percent of his threes in the past three games, after a four-game slump in which he made just 2 of 18. Getting back to regular minutes in the starting rotation has made a big difference, he acknowledged, in getting his rhythm back.
Missed 3-point attempts in the final 1:40 of the game for the Lakers, one from World Peace, one from Antawn Jamison, two by Kobe Bryant, and one from Clark at the buzzer, all of which would have tied the game. L.A. had trimmed a 16-point fourth quarter lead all the way down to three with 2:56 to go when Antawn Jamison converted a layup from Nash with 2:56 left. Neither team could hit a shot until 43 seconds remained, when Manu Ginobili hit a three, though Clark answered 12 seconds later. Tony Parker turned it over on the next Spurs trip, setting up two final three-point attempts from L.A. that would have tied it up.