San Antonio Spurs 89, Los Angeles Lakers 88: Diced
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.