Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Wednesday evening playoff contest at San Antonio, 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
12:00 We had some injury news before the game: Jordan Hill was cleared to play after being out since late January (hip surgery), while Jodie Meeks was not (sprained left ankle). Mike D’Antoni said we could see some of Hill on the floor, backup up Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard.
5:32 It was an energetic start from both teams, who’d waited two full off days between games in the build up, as the lead exchanged hands until Dwight Howard’s and-1 (missed free throw) got L.A. within two at 14-12.
0:00 After playing pretty solid defense for the first 11 minutes, the Lakers allowed back-to-back three-pointers from subs Manu Ginobili and Gary Neal, enough to give San Antonio a 28-23 lead out of the first period. In contrast to Game 1, the Lakers took care of the ball, committing only one turnover after five of their 18 came in the first quarter on Sunday.
9:50 A 7-0 Lakers run trimmed what had become an eight-point Spurs lead cut it to one at 31-30: Steve Nash hit his first shot in four attempts, then finding Antawn Jamison for the fourth triple (they hit only three in Game 1), and Gasol capped it with a layup off Nash’s third assist.
4:57 Turnovers started becoming a problem again, as Metta World Peace committed consecutive miscues (a charge, then a travel) and Steve Blake couldn’t get an entry pass into Howard, the Spurs taking advantage by staying up 41-37. Kahwi Leonard had been problematic for L.A., with 10 points on 5 of 7 field goals, plus defense on MWP helping cause those turnovers.
0:00 After taking a momentary lead behind Howard’s and-1 through Matt Bonner, L.A. collapsed in the final moments of the half, allowing a 13-4 run that was led almost entirely by Manu Ginobili. The Argentinean hit two of his three triples on the evening, and assisted on other hoops to allow the Spurs a 56-48 lead into the tunnel. The visitors had to be disappointed, having really controlled the first half until the final minutes of each quarter, as Ginobili picked them apart.
11:07 L.A. couldn’t have started the second half much worse, allowing back-to-back Spurs hoops around a Nash turnover, then seeing Howard get called for his third foul, plus a technical, trying to get position from Duncan inside. Moments later, at the 8:37 mark, Howard was hit with another offensive foul, and thus had to sit for the final large majority of the quarter, L.A. already down 11.
0:00 Closing quarters was obviously a huge problem in the first half, and while the third quarter’s finish wasn’t as bad, L.A. failed to score in the final 1:47 after a 6-2 run had gotten them back into it. San Antonio scored the final three points, including a Gary Neal jumper when L.A. couldn’t clear a defensive board in the final seconds, that made it a 78-68 Spurs lead after three.
9:35 After a 6-0 Spurs run amidst consecutive inside misses from Earl Clark and Jamison, the Lakers were down a game-high 14 points at 84-70, starting an 0-2 series deficit straight in the face.
6:10 The likely dagger in this one came courtesy of Bonner, who hit a triple that put the Spurs up 17 points, their biggest lead of the game. Mike D’Antoni put Hill and Andrew Goudelock into the game for the first time, perhaps to see what they could offer with an eye on Friday’s Game 3.
0:00 Adding injury to insult, Blake suffered a hamstring strain in the final minutes. As if the Lakers could afford another injury to a guard, with Blake already playing big minutes at shooting guard in the absence of Kobe Bryant – and on this night – Meeks. We’ll have to wait and see how Blake is tomorrow. L.A. did get some good late minutes from the bench, with Morris reaching 10 points, Hill getting a put-back bucket and moving around well, Goudelock working hard before a late pull-up J.
Nonetheless, the Spurs held on to win easily, taking a 102-91 result to claim a 2-0 series lead heading back to Los Angeles for games on Friday and Sunday. We’ll see you from Los Angeles.