Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday afternoon contest against San Antonio in the playoff opener with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Nash, Blake, World Peace, Gasol and Howard
Spurs: T. Parker, D. Green, K. Leonard, T. Splitter, T. Duncan
5:54 Despite a slow start from both teams, the score was tight in the early goings after Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol made consecutive jump shots. That was part of L.A.’s problem, however, as they didn’t do a good job of getting the ball inside; San Antonio responded with a quick 6-0 run to take their biggest lead at 19-10.
0:00 L.A. shot the ball very poorly throughout the first quarter, connecting on only 6 of 19 shots before Antawn Jamison got a layup to fall after a tough catch with four seconds left in the period. That cut San Antonio’s margin back to nine at 24-15, when it had been as large as 12.
7:11 The Lakers finally found their offense early in the second quarter, as Howard’s dunk off Gasol’s alley-oop capped an 8-0 run that cut San Antonio’s lead to just four at 28-24. The Spaniard had already reached six points with nine boards and four assists in 13 minutes of action.
0:00 The halftime deficit was eight, the Lakers committing 12 turnovers in the first 24 minutes – four in the last 3:30 – but struggled from the outside. Thanks to 26 paint points and limiting the Spurs to 42 percent field goals, L.A. was within single digits despite their turnovers and poor shooting (3 of 20 jump shots).
9:04 Both Steve Nash and Gasol were 3 for 10 from the floor before Nash got a jumper to go, both veterans coming up short on the majority of their jump shots. Metta World Peace, meanwhile, was 0 for 4, the team a collective 37.8 in a game they trailed by 10.
5:42 After a Metta World Peace triple – his second make in seven attempts – Blake drained a J off a pretty crossover, and this after helping force yet another Tony Parker contested miss (6 of 16 for the Frenchman). With the 5-0 run, L.A. were within four points once again.
0:00 L.A. was a rim out away from getting within two midway through the quarter, but found itself quickly down 13 heading into the fourth quarter, due to a combo platter of Manu Ginobili scoring (two transition three-pointers and a layup) and lots of Spurs free throws – lots to Mike D’Antoni’s displeasure – as Tim Duncan hit four straight foul shots amidst 11 of 12 as a team in the quarter (to L.A.’s 5 of 6). San Antonio closed the quarter on an 8-2 run, featuring the two Ginobili triples.
7:46 Two Nash foul shots snapped consecutive scoring trips from the Spurs, but a Parker reverse layup countered to keep the deficit at 13. The Lakers had really played well all night on the defensive end, but wide open misses were killing them. Nash was 5 for 14, Blake 4 for 10, MWP 2 for 8, Gasol 6 for 13 and Jodie Meeks 1 of 4, with Howard’s 7 for 11 the only efficient line.
4:04 The likely Spurs daggers came from downtown, Danny Green and Matt Bonner connecting off a defensive breakdown (Jamison leaving Green to help Parker penetration unnecessarily) and the 17th Lakers turnover, to just nine from the Spurs, allowing an 84-68 lead for the home team with just four minutes on the clock.
0:00 And yes, that did it. The only Laker shooting above 50 percent in the game was Howard (8 of 12), though it was the turnovers that did L.A. in, 18 to San Antonio’s nine allowing the home team 14 more attempts at the rim. The D was very strong for L.A., San Antonio hitting only 38.1 percent, but they had so many more looks that a double-digit win resulted. The final: 91-79, Gasol’s layup in the final seconds getting him to 16 points, 16 boards and six assists in the losing effort.
In sum, the Lakers competed hard and were really good defensively, but without Kobe Bryant, they’re not going to beat a mostly healthy Spurs team (Boris Diaw the only guy out) when allowing 12 more field goal attempts due to a doubling up of turnovers. They’ll have their chance to steal Game 2 on Wednesday evening; we’ll see you there.