El Conclusion: Los Angeles Lakers 98, San Antonio Spurs 84

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Los Angeles Lakers 98 Final

Recap | Box Score

84 San Antonio Spurs
Tim Duncan, C 24 MIN | 7-14 FG | 0-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 14 PTS | -12Went into the archives and pulled out a driving dunk early and played okay defensively. But the difference between Duncan five years ago and Duncan now is that a front line like this can make him seem ordinary when he’s not receiving enough help.
Kawhi Leonard, SF 18 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | -8Kawhi Leonard was practically invisible, but then, so much of his game still relies on Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili being able to collapse a defense. With that in mind, how negatively do you reflect on Leonard when the players he depends on struggle? Defensively, Ron Artest had a flashback to his Pacers days and was simply too overpowering for Leonard at times.
DeJuan Blair, F 13 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 PTS | -4This is simply a terrible matchup for Blair. To an extent, it’s hard to fault him. His performance on the Lakers will always be a mere barometer for how focused Andrew Bynum is on that particular night. Tonight Bynum was pretty damn dialed in, and it reflects in Blair’s stat line.
Tony Parker, PG 27 MIN | 2-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 4 PTS | -16The key to beating the Lakers defense is collapsing it, then making their towering front line move side-to-side, scrambling on rotations. For a number of reasons (had a rare off night with his jumper) Parker never really could collapse the defense completely. The eight assists look nice, but they’re inflated stat filler. When these teams meet again, Parker needs to exploit the Lakers as the matchup advantage it’s supposed to be.
Daniel Green, G 27 MIN | 7-11 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 22 PTS | -2Started the game brilliantly, and ended on a scoring flurry against the Lakers starters, so it wasn’t completely a case of filling the stat sheet with empty calories. I eagerly await seeing Green get a shot at Kobe Bryant.
Stephen Jackson, SG 25 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS | -5Wanted to give Jackson a lower grade, but then reasoned on a night the Spurs played better, his contribution would look better. Was tied for the team lead in rebounds with five.
Matt Bonner, PF 20 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS | -8Should the Spurs meet the Lakers in the playoffs, I can see Bonner starting. Tim Duncan is the only player that can competently defend Andrew Bynum, and while Boris Diaw might be a bit more effective defending Pau Gasol, Bonner can at least make life difficult for the Lakers at the other end.
Boris Diaw, PF 17 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 PTS | -4While the passing is nice, at some point Diaw has to be a threat to score. Otherwise it’s just watching your 6-8 power forward dribbling into the middle of the lane and making a harmless pass to the wing to reset the offense with less time on the shot clock. To be an effective passer, the defense has to respect you. The Lakers did not.
Manu Ginobili, SG 26 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 9 PTS | -13Ginobili’s drives were swallowed alive by the Lakers length, and he had trouble finding rhythm anywhere else to compensate. Like Parker, needs to do a better job collapsing the defense and either going hard to draw fouls or making smarter decisions.
Tiago Splitter, C 15 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | -9Was he efficient? I suppose. Was he impactful? Not at all.
James Anderson, SG 7 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS | +9Had a nice little run with the fourth quarter unity that made the score more respectable than it was. Provided Lakers fans with an opportunity to chant air ball in the AT&T Center.
Patrick Mills, PG 21 MIN | 3-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 7 PTS | +2“Has never met a shot he couldn’t turn into a fade away.” –Andrew McNeill

Five Things We Saw

  1. Andrew Bynum’s performance may have been somewhat of an outlier, I doubt the Spurs play this badly again, but the scary thing is that this a perfectly repeatable performance when he is completely dialed in. The Lakers aren’t 20 points better than the Spurs, but they’re not a team they want to face early in the playoffs either.
  2. Kobe Bryant is the best player on the Lakers, but he isn’t what makes them special. The key to the Lakers defeating the Spurs is, was, and always will be their vaunted front line. Bryant might be able to score a high volume of points, but he’s not going to deter Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker at the rim the way Bynum and Gasol can.
  3. The quick answer to matching up with the Lakers would seem to be to play Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter together, but I’m not sure it’s the correct one over an extended period. Tiago Splitter’s greatest strengths involve operating in space, the Lakers biggest strength is consuming it. Splitter works best in tandem with Blair, and a Duncan-Splitter pairing still wouldn’t compensate enough for Gasol-Bynum and might diminish some of their offensive capabilities. I might be overthinking this, however, as it’s still a better solution than DeJuan Blair against this team.
  4. The Lakers had the Manu Ginobili-Tiago Splitter pick and roll scouted fairly well, closing out on Matt Bonner in the corner almost every single time.
  5. The Spurs are still vulnerable on the interior, and I don’t think anyone has forgotten that. But if everyone remains available for the Grizzlies, we might get a better indication of how much of problem that still remains.
  • theghostofjh

    One of the unique strengths of this team is our bench. A TD/Splitter pairing would hurt the second unit.

  • Bob

     Your bench only has to maintain the starters lead. You don’t sacrifice your starting unit so you can have a better bench.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Not even for 5 minutes to shake things up?

  • TD BestEVER

     We never saw Blair vs Gasol so that notion could be totally false…..The problem last night is TD is out biggest player and he needed to guard Bynum, but POP didn’t want him to take the beating or get into foul trouble……. Gasol can’t out muscle Blair the way Bynum did……..

  • TD BestEVER

    Another poor write up by Jesse…….most grades are just plain laughable………

    Diaw not even attempting a shot in 17 minutes gets a higher grade than Blair……. Diaw get fewer rebounds and had a ton more OPEN looks than Blair….. More biased Blair bashing I see

    For all the Blair bashers out there – Tiago did most of his damage vs Gasol and was beaten by Bynum as bad as Blair was……. He just faced him less time. 

    This game came down to simple matchups….. and POP choose to put TD on Gasol…….

    If TD guards Bynum this game turns out differently.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Craig-Thomas/1541940034 Craig Thomas

    I want him to at least try. We drafted him almost solely for rebounding purposes and now he gets lit up for possibly the worst rebounding performance by the Spurs in the past decade? How is that possible? He needs to worry more about boxing out and less about his offensive game. I don’t care if he averages 0 points a game as long as he boxes out on defense and works for some offensive boards he can remain on the team. Don’t get me wrong though, it was a whole lack of team effort last night that cost us the game. However, Blair is our STARTING CENTER. He has to average more than 5 defensive rebounds per game to be of any value.

  • Titletown99030507d

    IF Timmy is on the Floor for say 10 minutes with Bynum why cant we split those minutes. 5 for splitter, then 5 for Blair, bring in Bonner with Splitter then Blair with Timmy and repeat the process.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Also add good perimetr defense like they know how to do and dont subject themselves to chucking up bricks and not ignoring the feeding of the post players. Timmy make his outside justs and all the bigs fight for those rebounds.

  • theghostofjh

    I’m okay with experimenting as such in certain match-ups.

  • theghostofjh

    As I said, the TEAM overall, both 1st & 2nd unit, is likely better with Tiago anchoring the second team defense.

  • Bob

     Bynum was pretty much grabbing them above the rim. In fact alot of them were just bouncing to him.

  • junierizzle

    “If TD guards Bynum this game turns out differently.” Yup, that and a TP that can hit a shot wouldn’t hurt either.

  • observerfirstfansecond

     THE DUNCAN OF  OLD MAY HAVE BEEN ABLE TO MATCH UP WITH BYNUM ON THE DEFENSIVE END. THE CURRENT DUNCAN IS THINNER, NOT AS ATHLETIC AND GETS MANHANDLED. BYNUM HAS AT LEAST 25 TO 30 LBS ON HIM, SPRINGIER LEGS AND IS 13 YEARS YOUNGER. HOWEVER, TD IS STILL OUR BEST BET AGAINST BYNUM. HE NEEDS TO PLAY WITH MORE PASSION AND TOUGHNESS  AGAINST BYNUM. BY THE WAY BYNUM DID NOT SCORE A LOT, IT WAS HIS REBOUNDING THAT KILLED US. REBOUNDING IS ABOUT EFFORT, DESIRE AND TOUGHNESS. TD NEEDS MORE OF THAT AGAINST BYNUM.  FINALLY,IF MANU AND TONY HAD PLAYED BETTER THE GAME’S OUTCOME MAY HAVE BEEN  DIFFERENT.

  • Titletown99030507d

    I hate when the big three take a couple of days off and comeback as if they went on vacation. Thats not good especially comining back with no fire against the Lakers much less. And unprepared. Well Pop being unprepared. Better change up things before we become leche for puss in boots.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Craig-Thomas/1541940034 Craig Thomas

    The fact that he was so close to the rim in the first place is a boxing out problem. The only way he should be able to rebound that much is if there is an extremely long rebound and our guards aren’t able to get it. Anything around the rim offensive wise is the fault of whoever is boxing him out.