Monthly Archive for April, 2013

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LAL 89, Spurs 120: Game 3 Running Diary

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers - Game ThreeBelow is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening Game 3 playoff contest vs. 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: Morris, Goudelock, World Peace, Gasol and Howard
Spurs: T. Parker, D. Green, K. Leonard, T. Splitter, T. Duncan

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Three12:00 Those weren’t typos in the starting line up for the Lakers, folks. Two 2011 second round picks, Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock, would hear their names announced for the first time as playoff starters. L.A.’s top four guards – Kobe Bryant (torn Achilles), Steve Nash (back/hip/hamstring issues), Steve Blake (hamstring strain) and Jodie Meeks (ankle sprain) were all out. Crazy, but hey, that’s why they play the game…

5:54 L.A. got off to a 6-3 start when Morris put back Pau Gasol’s miss, but the Spurs took over from there, going on a 14-2 run to open a 17-8 lead. Needless to say, the Lakers looked out of sync on both ends, forced into using line ups we haven’t seen play together all season, hitting only 4 of 14 field goals on offense (28.6 percent) with the Spurs making 6 of 10, plus 5 of 6 free throws.

0:00 The Lakers have been just brutal at closing quarters in this series, and that continued, with San Antonio cranking out the final six points of the period to allow a 30-18 lead after one. San Antonio shot 61.1 percent from the field, compared to L.A.’s 34.8, one offense being executed with precision, the other trying to learn on the fly. And that’s not really the fault of the Lakers, playing groups that literally have not seen the floor together this season.

7:40 After sitting half the first quarter with two fouls, Dwight Howard returned and immediately got the ball on three consecutive trips. That ended up netting only one point, however, as he missed two field goals, and then hit 1 of 2 free throws off a foul when he’d grabbed Goudelock’s missed three. As such, the Spurs held a 36-23 lead, continuing to build upon the margin they began pushing late in the first.

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Three0:00 In just over a two-minute stretch, Goudelock showed why he was the recently-named NBA D-League MVP this season, going off for 10 of his 14 points in the half to keep L.A. in the mix when they’d fallen behind by as many as 18. As such, San Antonio’s lead was 11 at the break, at 55-44, the visitors hitting 59 percent of their shots.

7:11 And the Spurs just kept going, their offense running so efficiently, with eight makes in 10 attempts, Duncan climbing up to 20 points on a ridiculous 10 of 11 shooting line (including 7 for 7 on jump shots). Even with Goudelock reaching 20 points, the Spurs get their lead back up to 18 points, matching the first half high.

2:52 Things got worse from there, Duncan getting to a game-high 22 points with a put-back dunk that sent the Lakers into a time out down 81-59. L.A. were trying, but – not to beat a dead horse – barely knew how to play together due to all the injuries, and had no answer for crisp San Antonio execution (62.5 percent shooting). At quarter’s end, the Spurs held a commanding 85-63 lead.

6:55 L.A.’s bigs were putting up solid all-around numbers, with Gasol’s and-1 leaving him a single point shy of a triple double (nine points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists), and Howard boasting 25 points with 11 rebounds (five straight free throw makes, 9 of 16 field goals), yet the Spurs led by 22.

5:16 Notching his first career playoff triple-double, Gasol (11 points, 13 boards, 10 assists) scored at the rim before exiting the game alongside Howard (25 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks) with the Lakers trailing by 24.

0:00 Even if the Lakers were close to healthy – and they’re certainly not – an 0-3 series deficit would be about as daunting as could be to a Spurs team executing seemingly at will, even their garbage-time guys going off late in the game, pushing their lead to as many as 33, before a 120-89 win marked the biggest Lakers home loss in franchise history (previous was 29 vs. Portland in 2000). Game 4 is on Sunday – we’ll see you there.

Quote Round Up: Thursday Practice

130425_dantoni_practiceHere’s a transcription of interviews from Thursday’s practice from *coach Mike D’Antoni, Steve Nash, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard.

*Click on each name to watch the full video.

Q: On the status of Steve Blake, Steve Nash and Jodie Meeks for Game 3:
D’Antoni: Well, obviously, Steve Blake isn’t going to have a chance. He’s out for sure. Realistically, (Jodie) Meeks is more doubtful than (Steve) Nash, but we’ll see. Tomorrow is a new day and we’ll see how they feel. Obviously it’ll be a game-time decision, but we’ll see what happens.

Q: On if Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock will see the bulk of the minutes in Game 3 should Blake, Nash and Meeks not play:
D’Antoni: Yeah, and (Chris) Duhon. We’ll get a look at the rest of the guys.

Q: On his feelings about possibly starting that backcourt:
D’Antoni: Again, it is what it is, and it’s not something you may wish, but at the same time, we need to dominate inside. That’s Pau (Gasol) and Dwight (Howard). They’ll play hard and they’ll be defensive. I know it’s hard, but at the same time, I feel we have enough to do it. We’re going to come out fighting and give it all we got.

Q: On what the team needs to do win Game 3:
D’Antoni: We have to dominate the glass, offensively and defensively. We have to make good plays. We’re going to have some of our guys step up, and I trust them to do it at this time. Antawn (Jamison), Earl (Clark), Metta (World Peace), Darius (Morris) – somebody’s going to have to have a good game. A couple of them have to have really good games. They can, and they’re capable.

Q: On his status:
Nash: I had the procedure (two epidural injections and cortisone shot) done this morning, and fingers crossed it’ll help (for Game 3).

Q: On when he tweaked his injury in Game 2:
Nash: I’m always in pain. (I’m) not right so to speak, but I felt OK enough to feel like I could be effective. The last three seconds of the half, I tweaked it trying to sprint the ball up court before the halftime buzzer, and then it just went downhill from there.

Q: On the chances of him playing in Game 3:
Nash: I don’t know. We’ll see. I have fingers crossed that it helps. I could play. I have been called a doctor of chemistry by certain people in the media, but I couldn’t make a prediction.

Q: On how he feels physically:
Nash: I’m still in a lot of discomfort, not only from last night, but getting a bunch of darts stuck in me.

Q: On if there is a chance he won’t play:
Nash: Absolutely. I’m very concerned. It’s really frustrating, especially because I was at the point where I was excited to start the last two games even though I still couldn’t sprint completely and I was not moving as well as I’d like. I still thought I could still be effective and find a way to help the team and impact the game. Obviously to tweak it before the half and for it to deteriorate set me back.

Q: On what the team needs to do to win Game 3:
Gasol: We have to come out with a lot of energy, and be able to sustain it for 48 minutes. We’re going to need our fans’ support, and feed us as much energy as possible to continue to carry it throughout the game. Continue to fight and not let our frustration from the two games and two losses to carry over. They know they have an opportunity to really have a huge advantage in the series and put us in a corner, so right now, the pressure is on us and we need to do the job at home just like we’ve done all year.

Q: On hearing of Steve Blake’s injury:
Gasol: It’s just hard to lose teammates, and teammates that are playing their hearts out. At this point in the year – a critical point in the year – we’ve fought so hard to be here, and it’s hard not to be able to have the players that we can have at this point to have a better chance against a really good San Antonio team.

Q: On the Spurs offensive performance from Game 1 to Game 2:
Howard: They just made some tough shots, and they did it in those last two or three minutes. We have to do a better job of closing out quarters, and making sure those last two or three minutes that we finish strong.

Q: On what the team needs to do to come away with a win in Game 3:
Howard: We just got to make shots. On the defensive end, we have to make sure we do a good job of keeping those guys in front of us. We got to make sure we control Tony Parker from getting in the paint and doing damage. The biggest thing is those last couple minutes of the quarter. We have to do a better job of closing them out.

Murphy’s Law Injury Season Continues

Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs - Game TwoLakers Injury Report sponsored by UCLA Health SystemThings seemed bad enough from an injury standpoint with Kobe Bryant watching losses in Games 1 and 2 from his home in Orange County as his backcourt partner Steve Nash hobbled/battled his way through nerve issues in his back/hip/hamstring.

But in a season in which nearly everything has gone wrong from an injury standpoint, we learned on Friday that Steve Blake would be out indefinitely with a moderate hamstring strain, while Nash and Jodie Meeks (sprained left ankle) are doubtful for Friday’s Game 3.

Blake had an ultrasound on Friday to confirm the hamstring strain; Meeks had an MRI on his ankle; and Nash received two epidural injections in his back, in addition to a cortisone shot in his right hip.

Mike D’Antoni said that Nash is the more likely between he and Meeks to be able to play, but both are unlikely to see the floor.

As such, the Lakers would be without their top four guards, with 2011 second round picks Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock (the recently called-up 2012-13 D-League MVP) and Chris Duhon remaining to try and hold the fort.

Morris will likely start at point guard, charged with defending Tony Parker, which Blake did exceptionally well in the first two games. Parker did manage to explode for 15 of his 28 points in the third quarter of Game 2, hitting 9 of 20 shots and 9 of 10 free throws, after 18 points on 8 of 21 field goals in Game 1.

Goudelock may get the nod at off guard, his ability to create his own shot and knock down open threes coveted, with Duhon backing up both spots.

INJURY MONSTER (bug doesn’t cut it)
In the regular season, the Lakers lost 81 games to starters, and 171 overall, with almost every key rotation player missing at least four games:

- Steve Nash: lower left leg fracture (24 games); right hamstring/hip issues (8 games)
- Kobe Bryant: sprained left ankle (2 games); torn left Achilles tendon (2 games)
- Metta World Peace: torn lateral meniscus in left knee (6 games)
- Pau Gasol: tendinitis in both knees (8 games); concussion (5 games); torn plantar fascia in right foot (20 games)
- Dwight Howard: torn labrum in right shoulder (6 games)
- Jordan Hill: left hip injury (53 games)
- Steve Blake: abdominal injury (37 games)

Add in two missed playoff games for Bryant, one for Hill and Jodie Meeks plus the potential for four guards out for Game 3, and things have gone beyond ridiculous. A qualifier is the team’s collective age, making injuries more likely, but even head athletic trainer Gary Vitti said he’s never seen anything like this season from an injury perspective.

For comparison’s sake, here’s how three other Western teams have fared on the injury front from a games missed standpoint:

Lakers: 171 total, 81 starting five
Spurs: 86 total, 50 starting five
Clippers: 86 total, 17 starting five*
Thunder: 12 total, seven starting five
*Chauncey Billups also missed 60 games

Pretty rough for the purple and gold, to say the least, particularly as the Spurs, Clippers and Thunder have all gotten their key players back for the postseason.

Lakers – Spurs Postgame Numbers

Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs - Game TwoWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 102-91 Game 2 loss at San Antonio:

Minutes for Steve Blake, before being subbed for good with 4:50 remaining. Postgame, Blake acknowledged he felt a “sharp pain” in his hamstring. Since Kobe Bryant went down and through the first two games of this series, Blake had been playing some of his best basketball, shooting the ball particularly well from 3-point range (13 of 32, 41 percent) and was the key defender on Tony Parker.

Plus-rating for Matt Bonner, a game-high. Bonner scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds for the second straight contest, but also had three steals. His 3-pointer with 6:09 left pushed the Spurs lead to 91-74 – their biggest of the contest.

Points for Parker, 15 coming in the third quarter on five field goals and five free throws. After Dwight Howard had to sit with four personal fouls, Parker repeatedly found his way to the rim, scoring 10 straight points at one point. His 1 of 6 performance towards four points in the first half was followed up by a 24-point outburst in the second half on 8 of 14 field goals and 7 of 8 free throws despite Blake staying in his face and holding him below 50 percent field goals.

Rebounds for Kawhi Leonard, a team-high. Leonard grabbed 11 boards in Game 1, and is now averaging nine through two games in the series. He also scored 16 points, 14 in the first half, Metta World Peace not nearly as effective on either end of the floor as he was pre-surgery on March 28 to take out his torn left meniscus.

Minutes for Jordan Hill, who saw game action for the first time since Jan. 6. Hill underwent surgery on his injured left hip on Jan. 23, and was expected to be out approximately six weeks. He finished with two points and two boards.

Fouls for Howard, all coming on the offensive end. He picked up two quick ones early in the third, needing to sit the final 8:37. Although the Lakers were able to shave a single point off the deficit, their rim protection suffered with Parker getting to the hoop almost every possession.

Three-pointers from Manu Ginobili, all of them coming at the end of the first and second quarters. The Spurs closed the first on a 10-3 run and the second on a 13-4 spurt, keyed by Ginobili. Eleven of his 13 points came in the last three minutes of those quarters. In the series, Ginobili is averaging 15.5 points, 5.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds (6 of 9 on 3′s) in 19 minutes.

LAL 91, Spurs 102: Game 2 Running Diary

Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs - Game TwoBelow 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

Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs - Game Two12:00 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.

Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs - Game Two4:57 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.

Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs - Game Two9:35 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.

Jordan Hill Cleared to Play

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles LakersLakers Injury Report sponsored by UCLA Health SystemIt’s been rare that the Lakers have gotten good news on the injury front this season, but that’s what we have in advance of Wednesday’s Game 2: reserve big man Jordan Hill has been cleared to play.

Hill, who had surgery on his left hip on Jan. 23 that included removal of loose fragments, repair of a torn labrum and a microfracture procedure to repair damaged cartilage, was expected to be out for the season.

Instead, he has steadily progressed, participating in contact drills throughout the week with no setbacks. As such, the training staff cleared him for game action.

Whether or not he plays in Game 2 will be a coaching decision, but look for him to certainly see the court soon. Hill will most likely be used as a backup center/power forward, allowing Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol additional rest, while competing for minutes with Earl Clark.

Hill averaged 6.7 points and 5.7 rebounds for the Lakers in 29 games.

Tuesday Practice Update

nashtuespracThough it happens on occasion in the first round of the NBA playoffs, having consecutive days off between games is uncommon; but that’s what the Lakers and Spurs face as they prepped for Game 2 with a second straight day of practice on Tuesday at the AT&T Center.

The Spurs won Game 1 by 12 points, a scoreline that L.A. may have preferred the chance to reverse in short order. Would an extra day between the two games take away from the desperation the loser typically feels?

If the Lakers thought so, they weren’t collectively revealing an excuse after practice.

“When the ball goes up in the air, we’re going to be ready to play,” said Steve Blake, who played well especially on defense with four steals and two blocks in Game 1. “It’s a huge game … if we want to win the series, we have to steal at least one on the road.”

While Blake and Steve Nash will be in the backcourt, what the Spurs expect to continue is L.A.’s offense running through the NBA’s most skilled big man (with apologies to Tim Duncan), Pau Gasol.

“He’s a great player and he’s got a lot of skills, so that’s why you see the ball in his hands as much as you do,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

Gasol told Time Warner Cable SportsNet that he enjoys playing that role, that he’s just as happy to facilitate for teammates as he is taking advantage of his matchup. And that he did in the first half, notching all six of his assists, with coach Mike D’Antoni saying his teammates simply didn’t make shots in the second half. The Spaniard was well on his way to a third triple double in four games.

Gasol’s frontcourt partner, Dwight Howard, has also shown himself capable of finding open shooters out of double teams on the post, but 3 of 15 shooting from three-point range didn’t help assist numbers (one).

Hitting perimeter shots is always a key in the NBA, but particularly in the case of this Lakers group, who needs to see the ball go in from distance to open things up inside. The Spurs were content to allow open jump shots, in favor of sending constant attention towards Howard and Gasol that helped cause 18 total Lakers turnovers.

That’s perhaps the key adjustment for D’Antoni: finding ways to get the ball inside against an overloaded defense.

In other news, Jodie Meeks missed practice for the second straight day due to his sprained ankle, but did say he expects to be available for Game 2. Nash (back, hip, hamstring) practiced and reiterated his Monday claim that he’s simply not going to be 100 percent, but trusts himself to find ways to be effective if limited.

Both teams will hold shootarounds on Wednesday morning in advance of a 6:30 p.m. Pacific tip off.

Lakers Prep for Game 2

130422practiceAfter falling 91-79 in Game 1 of their Round 1 series against San Antonio, the Lakers gathered for a Monday practice at Texas Military Institute, intent upon making adjustments that might help lead to an improved all-around effort in Wednesday’s Game 2.

Searching for a split before returning home to Los Angeles, the Lakers know that they most need to cut down on the kinds of mistakes they made that led to a far-too-high 18 turnovers – the Spurs had just nine – in a statistic that was the major difference between winning and losing.

“I wasn’t happy with the 18 turnovers we had,” said Mike D’Antoni after the game. “That is, to me, probably the difference in the game … some of that was turning down shots that were open and trying to force it in a little bit too much. But we have to have the balance, and have to clean some things up to try and get the ball inside a little bit easier.”

Indeed, 10 of the team’s 18 miscues came from big men Pau Gasol (six) and Dwight Howard (four), as the Spurs constantly clogged the paint and sent multiple bodies at the two Laker bigs.

After Monday’s practice, Steve Blake said the Lakers have to focus on moving the ball, and moving bodies before putting the ball inside.

“There were a few times where we forced things that caused turnovers,” said Blake, who had three miscues. “A couple times I went to make a pass and I just lost it. I’m pretty sure that happened to a couple of guys. We will clean it up and we will be ready for the next game.”

While the offense struggled to 41.1 percent shooting, the defense was very strong, limiting the Spurs to just 37.6 percent from the field. But when an opponent gets to take 12 more shots (85 to 73) and one more free throw (25 to 24, the Spurs plus four in makes) the percentages matter less.

Aside from the extra possessions created off turnovers, San Antonio effectively limited L.A. from gathering misses, allowing only six offensive boards and grabbing eight of their own. Nonetheless, Gregg Popovich’s system of movement and cuts was held pretty well in check by Dwight Howard and Co.

Blake did an excellent job on one of the NBA’s toughest covers in point guard Tony Parker, who made just 8 of 21 shots towards his 18 points. And Steve Nash, never known for his defense, battled hard all night despite continued limitations in his back/hip/hamstring to be in the right places. Danny Green scored only six points, Nash taking care not to afford open looks.

On the other end, Nash – who admittedly does not feel like himself – scored 16 points on 6 of 15 field goals. He was sore after the game, as expected, but made it through Monday’s practice.

“It’s not great, it’s not going to be great but I (have) to worry about what I can do,” he told reporters inquiring about his condition.

Nash is determined to help however he can, and Mike D’Antoni certainly needs his ability to make plays and shoot against a Spurs team eager to load up on the bigs inside. That’s due in part to the absence of offensive machine Kobe Bryant, watching the games back in his Orange County home as he recovers from Achilles surgery. Some of Bryant’s minutes are being taken up by Jodie Meeks, who became the latest Lakers to make the injury report as he sprained his left ankle in the third quarter.

Meeks did not practice on Monday in favor of getting treatment, but he told us he will play on Wednesday.

Tip is at 6:30 p.m. PST; you can watch on Time Warner Cable SportsNet starting with the pregame show, and follow me (@LakersReporter) on Twitter for constant updates from San Antonio.

Lakers – Spurs Postgame Numbers

Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs - Game OneWe broke down some of the more intriguing numbers from LAL’s 91-79 Game 1 loss at San Antonio:

Field-goal percentage for the Lakers, who struggled to gain any offensive rhythm or cohesion. Their starting lineup of Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard saw the court together for the first time all season.

Bench points from San Antonio, led by Manu Ginobili’s 18 in 19 minutes. Ginobili also finished with a team-high plus-19, while Matt Bonner chipped in with 10 points and five rebounds (plus-18 for the game). Granted, both played starters minutes, which wasn’t the case for L.A.’s subs.

The Lakers held San Antonio to sub-42 percent shooting for the second time in two weeks, their defense again strong throughout. After the Spurs converted on 10 of 20 field goals (50 percent) in the first quarter, San Antonio shot just 22 of 65 (33.9 percent) the rest of the way.

Minutes for Nash, seeing his first game action in more than three weeks after missing the final eight regular-season games with hamstring/hip issues. He recorded 16 points, three assists and two rebounds with only one turnover.

Turnovers for the Lakers, contributing to their struggles on offense. Despite L.A. shooting a better percentage and outrebounding the Spurs (44-43), San Antonio attempted 12 more shots, in large part because of the Lakers mistakes. Howard had four, and Gasol six with San Antonio sending multiple bodies at the big men.

Rebounds for Howard, his third straight game with at least 15. Since Kobe Bryant went down, Howard is averaging nearly 21 points and 17 boards.

Assists for Pau Gasol, all of them coming in the first half. The Lakers had 15 dimes for the game, but only five after halftime.

Steals for Blake, along with two blocks, who guarded Tony Parker most of the night. Parker, a 52.2 percent shooter during the regular season, converted on just 8 of 21 from the floor.

LAL 79, Spurs 91: Game 1 Running Diary

Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs - Game OneBelow 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.

Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs - Game One0:00 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.

Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs - Game One5:42 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.