San Antonio Spurs 89, Los Angeles Lakers 88: Diced

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Antonio McDyess’ game winning tip-in marks only the third time ever in an NBA regular season that Gregg Popovich has cracked a smile. The first was in 2003 when Pop got a “buy six bottles of wine, get 10 percent off” deal at the Pearl Specialty Spirits store in Portland, and the second was this.

Dice made his appearance earlier than normal against the Lakers, with DeJuan Blair picking up a couple of quick fouls. And after a forgettable game against Portland, one of his worst as a Spur in my opinion, Dice came through with eight points, eight rebounds and five assists against Los Angeles. He only shot 3-10, because his usually money mid-range jumper was off, but he made the one that counted.

His biggest plays were the aforementioned tip-in and this heady play at the end of the first quarter:

Gary Neal gets the credit for sinking the H-O-R-S-E-worthy shot, but Dice set it up with a smart deflection.

Defensively, the Spurs did well against Los Angeles. The 88 points looks better than it was, because the low score was aided by a only 90 possessions in the game, but San Antonio did hold the Lakers to about 43% from the field. Also of note, LA shot just 2-14 from the 3-point line.

The big problem for the Spurs was rebounding. The Lakers’ size advantage was painfully on Thursday night, as they outrebounded the Spurs 44-38 and had a 12-10 advantage on the offensive boards. Although, the Spurs got three offensive rebounds (one was a team rebound, where it went out of bounds off the Lakers) on the last possession. Two of those offensive boards were by McDyess, including the game-winner.

The last possession notwithstanding, the Spurs often looked helpless to keep the Lakers off the boards. Many times San Antonio resorted to trying to slap the ball out to the perimeter and hope one of the Spur guards could corral it.

Anytime there’s a Spurs-Lakers game, it’s important to all of us, but how important is it really to Gregg Popovich and Phil Jackson? Well, neither coach went deep into their bench, if that tells you anything. Every Spur starter played at least 33 minutes, with the exception of Blair and his foul trouble.

For LA, Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Ron Artest all played at least 35 minutes, and the Lakers only went three deep on their bench. Outside of a brief four minute appearance from Tiago Splitter, the Spurs did the same.

All that said, you know what the best part of the night was? Watching Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher helplessly motion that Dice’s tip-in was still in the cylinder (it was not). It doesn’t exorcise the demons of 2004, but it definitely puts a smile on my face.

  • tradetp…not right now

    While I do give credit to the tip in

    THE FACT REMAINS:

    1. McDyess allowed the Odom 3.
    2. McDyess allowed Gasol to get to the line.

    If it weren’t for his own defensive errors we wouldn’t
    have had to tip in a winner.

    This is what I am talking about when people dont understand the game. You see the highlights or read the paper and are basing YOUR OPINION on an OPINION of someone else.

    And for those of you who miss Bonner. YOU WILL BE SINGING A DIFFERENT TUNE when Neal gets less action.

    Why mess up a good rotation? In addition we all know that Bonner is worthless in big games against real competition.

    29 more wins….

  • Titletown99030507

    @thatbigGuy, even though Bonner’s taller than Blair he really isnt that much of an upgrade to Blair when it comes to the paint. He can get in foul trouble too if he decides to mix it up in the paint. Fantastic shooter though and we missed him already. What keeps Bonner on the floor is his shooting obviously.
    I really think Pop like very soon needs to start trusting Splitter with large rotation min. It will benefit Timmy especially in the playoffs.

  • Rafael

    I agree with @Titletown99030507, we need start Tiago on the floor, he have a good 1 vs 1 defense, is tall, have skills, why POP doesn’t let him play???Pop think Will kill our team if Splitter play 20 minutes by game, Macdyess was horrible last 3 games!!!!!!Blair play 24 minutes and grab 4 rebounds, Splitter play 4 minutes and grab 2!!!Blair can’t stop Gasol, Bynum, Aldridge and others…When Pop will see that??

  • Titletown99030507

    @rob, Got that right about Neal’s circus shot. Those 2 points came in handy.

  • Titletown99030507

    @rob, I guess they showed they can pull out a win not having an other dominant big, but they’re playing with fire if they expect to go in to the playoffs like this.
    Would be nice if Pop would give Tiago a butt load of more min. Like every game.

  • Tyler

    @TD

    The issue you brought up in your first comment had to do with where on the court we scored from – the perimeter.

    My comment was meant to say it’s more about how we get those scores. And how we get those scores is penetration. Manu and TP’s penetration creates efficient opportunities for themselves and their teamates.

    So, while the most efficient shot might be dunks/layups (which Manu and TP get a lot of), the next most efficient shot in basketball is an open 3 which again, we get a lot of. And while some teams might not take advantage of those looks, this group does – 3rd in the league in 3pt %.

    If our team can continue to get these high efficiency looks, our offense is going to be fine, no matter what style of play we employ.

    The reason we continually beat those PHX and Dallas teams was because we drove them off those efficient shots – we kept them from getting layups in transition and we drove them off the 3pt line and made them take contested, 2 pt jumpshots – a very inefficient shot.

    So really, those jump shots you talk about being low % aren’t nearly the same shots the Spurs are taking now. It’s not apples to apples.

  • Bankshot21

    We beat the Lakers with a 1st quarter and 4th quarter buzzer beater. I’ll take it. TD=B.E. is correct. Games like this is where we need TD on the block going to work. Even if he’s missing he’s wearing down the defensive bigs guarding him. We were going single coverage for a while with Kobe and he hit like 3 straight shots. Once we went to the diuble team it disrupted his offensive flow. You guys know I don’t complain much but my ONLY complaint regarding this game is James Anderson riding the pine. I would have liked to see him guard Kobe head up. Throw the young fella to the wolves and see how he does. I was so pissed @ TP in the 1st half. All we yap about on here is how he is our biggest weapon against the Lakers and he laid a huge egg in that 1st half. Then went off in the 3rd and had that big 3pt play in the closing minutes.

  • http://www.48minutesofhell.com Len

    I agree about Tiago. He isn’t being used for the role us fans specifically see him filling, guarding mobile bigs! Guys like Aldridge are a big, big problem.

    Another issue that is being overlooked is that Pop is not utilizing Tiago correctly on the offensive side. Tiago is a very good passer. He needs to be getting the ball between the free throw line and the top of the circle with guys cutting. Instead, he sets picks and rolls when he isn’t a good finisher in traffic (yet). There is no reason that Tiago and George can’t run the same play that Tim and Tony run. Ya know, where Tony passes to Tim at the free throw line extended and then curls around Tim. Sigh. I suppose I’ll have to take comfort in a 41 and 8 record, lol.

    Bottom line, Tiago needs to be playing 10+ mins a night.

  • jwalt

    Agree with all who say Bonner is missed big time, for the obvious reasons.

    Yes, I wish Manu would have shot better, but he had the best +/- score in the game for either team. When he was in we controlled the game, when he sat the Lakers instantly became the better team. We got quality shots in about 8 straight possessions in the 2nd half with running the high pick and roll with Manu. His vision remains as good as anyone in bb.

    And I disagree completely about having James Anderson guard Kobe. We are trying to win games, not develop a kiddie corp.

  • Bankshot21

    A kiddie corp? These are professional athletes. To disagree that Anderson didn’t deserve a crack @ him is odd to me. It’s the equivalent of having Neal guard Kobe or Splitter guard Bynum or Pau.

  • Bankshot21

    I too noticed that look of disdain by McDyess. It was hilarious.

  • AmyfromLA

    Yes, I agree our bigs didn’t play particularly well last night, but I thought the reason for the open 3 was because Manu gambled and Dice had to help because of the gamble. Not because Dice just lost his man or something. Dice was playing physical, but kept getting called for fouls. Whereas he’s been getting away with those some tactics against other players. I felt like him and TD got pushed out a little further than their comfort jumpshot spots. They both seem to keep hitting the front of the rim, so either that or they’re tired. They didn’t look tired. Maybe just an off-night by both.

    Even though Bonner doesn’t consistently hit, he helps spread the floor, giving TP and Manu more room to drive into the paint. Last night, the Laker bigs all camped in the paint. If Bonner was in or if Neal was not in a slump, I think the lane would’ve looked slightly wider. Whenever the Spurs triple-teamed Kobe, Kobe was able to make the pass out to an open teammate. I felt the triple-teaming was what cost the open shots and not because someone missed an assignment.

    (Maybe I’m misunderstanding some of the comments. Just my 2 cents.)

  • AmyfromLA

    ahhh….sorry for the typos:

    “same tactics” instead of “some tactics”

    “caused the open shots” instead of “cost the open shots”

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  • r.l.manuel

    the evil empire is once again defeated
    by the good guys in silver and black

  • jwalt

    bankshot21 – I apologize, calling it kiddie corp was wrong and over the top. But i still think these games are no place for experimenting. First see if Anderson is up to guarding other players before throwing him in against Kobe.

  • TD = Best EVER

    Quote from Ric Bucher

    “To answer the first question about the Spurs: yes, the Lakers’ length still gives them a huge advantage over San Antonio. The Spurs can’t play appreciably better than they are right now. They used to have a style that you didn’t want to face in the postseason. That’s less the case now. Duncan is, essentially, David West, as in a jump-shooting PF/C. That’s not what wins playoff games.”

    POP you have got to stop/control the madness that is this new Offense. We have got to get easier shots in the half court. More layups and less pull up J’s. TD in the Post or hit the Roll man on the PnR sometimes for Christ sakes……. Turning TD into David West……….

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  • Ed

    Right on cue KobMe shows how clutch he is!

  • trade TP… after a ring

    Amy-

    Dice was out of position on the three. He is supposed to either hedge or stop ball, not fade under the bucket (where Tim is) and leave a 38% three point shooter WIDE OPEN.

    He then allowed gasol to drive right around him and fouled him.

  • AmyfromLA

    Maybe I need to rewatch it, but I thought he was out of position because he was chasing Kobe after Manu lost Kobe because he was trying to go for a steal. BTW, I’m by no means trying to blame Manu. I just didn’t think it was completely Dice’s fault.

    Yeah, I was more upset w/the gasol foul at the end than I was about the three.

    But a win is a win so on to the next game, right?