Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday afternoon home contest against San Antonio in Game 4 of their first round series, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Morris, Goudelock, Clark, Gasol and Howard
Spurs: T. Parker, D. Green, K. Leonard, A. Baynes, T. Duncan
12:00 Injuries have been a major storyline for the Lakers all season, so starting Game 4 of a series they trailed 3-0 with two guys not expected to even see minutes before the season started, and one who wasn’t on the roster until the final few games of the season, was fitting. It was former second rounders Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock in the backcourt replacing the top four guards out injured (Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks) and Earl Clark in at small forward for Metta World Peace. San Antonio had one injury, with center Tiago Splitter sprained his ankle, leaving Australian rookie Aron Baynes as the starter (Gregg Popovich wanted Matt Bonner and DeJuan Blair to avoid early foul trouble defending Dwight Howard).
2:58 After falling quickly behind by nine, the Lakers rallied behind Dwight Howard and Chris Duhon off the pine, Howard scoring twice near the rim and Duhon connecting on a floater after finding Howard for the second of his two field goals to get L.A. within two points at 15-13.
0:00 A breakdown on offense – the eighth turnover – led to a breakdown on defense – failing to take a foul to give – that put the Spurs up eight in the final seconds. Morris, however, streaked up the court and got a tough runner to go to make it a 26-20 Spurs lead after one, which wasn’t too bad considering the four additional shots San Antonio got off thanks to the turnovers.
7:23 San Antonio got its first real separation from Gary Neal scored five consecutive points, nailing a triple when L.A. failed to properly rotate (Earl Clark) after double-teaming Duncan inside. The lead was 14, the home team already in considerable trouble.
0:00 The Spurs machine was clicking once again on offense, but their D may have been better. They were sitting on Gasol and Howard inside, refusing to allow easy entry passes, a big part of L.A.’s way-too-high 16 turnovers in the first half. The visitors thus took a 52-34 lead into the second half, L.A. scoring only 14 points in the second quarter.
9:51 Howard’s season very likely ended in a sour way, his second technical foul coming from ref Rodney Mott as he complained about a no call on Spurs big man Aron Baynes as the two jostled for position.
8:19 Moments later, a roar from the crowd continued to rise into a standing ovation … Kobe Bryant had come out on to the court, with the aid of crutches, to sit in the second row behind the bench. As the crowd continued to chant, L.A. rode the quick energy wave to a 7-2 run, yet still trailed by 16.
0:00 With Bryant using the aide of his crutches to talk to his teammates during time outs, then stand up from his seat behind the bench to motion the young guards to run up and down the floor, L.A. cut the margin to as few as 17, before the Spurs – as they have all series – closed the quarter well to take a 78-58 into the fourth. Barring a miracle, the Lakers had 12 minutes left in their 2012-13 season.
6:30 L.A. was still fighting, but San Antonio hadn’t let up focus for even a minute of this series, so consecutive buckets from Hill and Goudelock were answered by the Spurs, who kept a 91-74 lead as the time clicked down in L.A.’s season.
3:08 With 16 points (8 of 12 field goals), eight boards and five assists, Gasol checked out for the final time this season. He received a classy standing ovation from the fans, appreciative of what he gave not just this season in battling through injuries, but in season’s past, the key piece in helping Kobe lead the Lakers to three straight Finals trips and two straight championships for Dr. Jerry Buss.
And it’s on that note that we end the 2012-13 season, one full of expectations and then injuries: RIP to Dr. Jerry Buss, the greatest owner in sports history.