Lakers triumph 102 to 97, so it’s another taco night. The Spurs, without Parker and Duncan were able to make the game a tough run. Their success came from making the Lakers grind it out and hitting their 3′s, which enabled them to take a halftime deficit and turn it into a lead going into the 4th.
The Lakers were able to take the lead in the 1st half when the bench exploited San Antonio’s taxed depth. The game loosened up and that benefitted the home team. In the second half, the bench led the Lakers to the lead with good movement on the offensive end. The starters came in and controlled the 4th by matching San Antonio’s intensity, getting scrappy and forcing San Antonio to keep making shots.
Kobe had to work, but he led the team with 30 points.
The dominant undercurrent to the game were the no-calls by the refs. San Antonio used this to the fullest to get under the Lakers collective skins. Andrew Bynum was undone by this, getting a double technical in the 3rd. Lamar was pulled off the free throw line after the outcome was decided by Kobe to prevent him from getting a technical of his own.
On the whole, it was probably harder than it should have been, but you take a win over the defending champs anyway you can.
The headline for this game is that neither Duncan nor Parker will be playing up tonight. Both had been questionable going into the game, each with ankle injuries, but the maybe not has become definitely not. It was the first question Phil answered pre-game, when asked if he was concerned:
“We’re worried and I’ll tell you why, because we went without Boozer and Okur in Utah and we got our shirts handed to us at the end,” said Jackson. “They really kicked our butts. So we’re concerned that we don’t have any letdown. These guys are capable.”
In their first match-up this season, Duncan was a relative non-factor (though the Lakers had Kwame Brown available for defense), but Parker and Ginobili shredded the Lakers perimeter defense and created the open looks that got Bruce Bowen 23 points. Not having either Parker or Duncan puts even more offensive onus on Ginobili, who has continued coming off the bench, even though Duncan has been out.
Continue reading ‘Lakers vs. Spurs Pre-Game’
The final score came to be Lakers 127 – Nuggets 99 and it was a tale not of 2 halves, but 1 quarter to 3 quarters. The first quarter had the Lakers at their worst, 8 turnovers, ineffective defense and poor execution of the offense. The rest of the game was a team that played far more with their heads. 6 turnovers from the rest of the game and a resurgence of the bench with 63 points and most importantly they took a third quarter lead of 6 and expanded and then held it, keeping the starters on the bench. In that regard, it’s the perfect first game of a back to back, only Lamar went over 30 minutes with 32.
The hero of the bench mob in the 4th quarter was Sasha Vujacic, who kept gunning until he found his shot or the Nuggets fouled him. He parlayed 6 of 14 shooting into 22 points, a career high, with the help of 8-9 at the foul stripe (both career highs). Sasha was also in the middle the night’s controversy with Carmelo Anthony being ejected on a flagrant 2 foul on Sasha that left Sasha holding his throat.
Luke Walton had a positive effort, with 6 of 9 shooting leading to a season high of 14 points.
The end of the game got time for the end of both teams’ benches. Javaris was clearly the most excited at the prospect, with 7 points in 5 minutes of garbage time.
Tonight’s tilt might well be viewed as a preview of the race for the playoffs as the Nuggets currently sit at 9-6 and just ahead of the Lakers in the Western Conference. The focus pre-game was on Phil’s contract extension.
Coming into the game the Lakers are riding there bounce back win over Sonics after their 3 game losing streak, while the Nuggets dropped their last game against Indiana. Even with injuries of their own, the Lakers should be able to exploit the Nuggets’ front court, who features Marcus Camby, a limited Kenyon Martin and not many other big bodies. Certainly, this will be a test for Bynum against the shot blocking prowess of Camby on the offensive end and then the penetration of Iverson and Anthony on the defensive end. The injury to Martin does give more time to Linus Kleiza, who seemed to come out of no where to paste the Lakers for 29 points. He is the long range shooter (or was last year, this year his percentage isn’t quite there) that has been able to hurt the Lakers this season.
The stern test for the team tonight will be turnovers. The Lakers have had a season-long struggle with turnovers, but tonight they face a legitimate ball hawking Denver defense.
The strength of the efforts to open the 3rd quarter carried the Lakers to the end and a 107-93 victory. Performances of note were from Mihm, Odom and Bynum, who formed the first 3 Lakers to get 10 rebounds in the same game in about a season and a half. Fisher was a tidy 9 points on 3-5 shooting to go with 9 assists and Kobe had a quiet 30, 7 and 7, but he asserted himself at a few key moments to keep the Lakers on track.
The story of Lamar’s first game back was 18 points to go with those 10 rebounds, scoring in and out of the post and time spent at small forward, power forward and more or less lead guard.
Bynum showed his effectiveness gobbling up rebounds, though he once again had some trouble with a tall and savvy defender that kept him from easy dunking positions.
Turnovers continued to bother Coach Jackson, who thought too many risks were taken especially in transition, unusually by Luke, who led the team with 6 TO’s. The defense was also slow to adapt to the screen and rolls employed by the Timberwolves to keep themselves in the game in the 4th quarter.
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Next up, at San Antonio on Tuesday on KCAL 9.
The Lakers look to bounce back from their loss on Tuesday to New Orleans while the Timberwolves are just looking for their first win of the season after starting with 3 losses.
Phil cautioned that the Timberwolves represent exactly the kind of team the Lakers need to beat, pointing to the cautionary tale of the Bucks from last year, a team that was injured and didn’t finish well, but still swept the Lakers. The Timberwolves fit the bill of injured, with Rashad McCants not being able to go due to his recent ankle injury and he joins Randy Foye on the bench. In fact, the move may benefit the Timberwolves, as it brings in a more experienced player to help defend Kobe. The Timberwolves also offer the unknown as many of the players have only faced the Lakers a couple of times, though Jaric, Buckner, Walker and of course Mark Madsen are familiar faces.
This game also will be Lamar’s first of the season, apparently he got that doctor’s note that he and Phil were anticipating. He takes Luke’s place in the starting line-up. Coach Jackson thinks this is a good game for Lamar to get his feet wet and will judge his success tonight largely on when he fatigues and how his legs look on his shots and on defense. Lamar is also beginning this season in the small forward position, which will take advantage of his elite level skills in the open court, while still giving him ample opportunity in the post, where his length and size give him an advantage over other small forwards, whereas his quickness was his trump card last season. Coach Jackson pointed out that Lamar’s main influence on the team will be to get them to play quicker, so expect more fast breaks and more decisive execution of the triangle.
The inclusion of Lamar puts Luke on the bench, a move that augurs well for the team. Jackson explained that Luke enjoys playing with the guys that have come out with the second team and also will be a major asset in getting everyone involved, particularly Bynum.