San Antonio Spurs 103, Los Angeles Lakers 82: Spurs sweep aside injury-ravaged Lakers

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The Spurs have moved on to the second round after a thorough 103-82 dismantling of the emaciated, broken-down Lakers, but the story here was the purple and gold mess that stained the Staples Center floor. An aging roster, nonexistent payroll flexibility, an injured Kobe Bryant and overall sense of future uncertainty cloaks Los Angeles with a cloud of issues that extend far beyond being swept by a clearly superior team.

And then there’s Dwight Howard.

It will certainly be the talk of the summer. Again. What jersey will Howard be donning around Halloween next year? And you can be assured that certain antics will once again be called into question. Leading the way with a roster already ravaged by injury, the big man, the supposed post-Kobe “hope” of the Lakers franchise, lost his head and ended up taking an early trip down the locker room tunnel. Dwight was grabbed, pulled and hammered throughout the game, but as a brute physical force with no jumper and virtually no ability to make a free throw, that’s going to be par for the course throughout his career. If he handles it like this, “dependability” will continue to be the first word anyone brings up in their assessment of the superstar. He’s got everything else, it’s just the stuff between his ears that raises red flags.

Now, it must be said. He had virtually no one around to help outside of his partner in the paint, Pau Gasol. The Lakers’ starting lineup looked nothing like the one they had envisioned when they made offseason moves worthy of a Hollywood production last summer. No Kobe. No Steve Nash. No Metta World Peace. A dramatic exit for the 2012-13 version of Dwight. If it is to be turned into a movie, the script is already written. The Spurs just offered the conclusion.

It’s wild the difference a week makes. Before tip of Game 1 on April 21, San Antonio was heading to the postseason as unsure of itself as it’s ever been. Gregg Popovich said he was as concerned as he could remember about one of his teams entering the postseason. After going 10-10 over their final 20 regular-season games, after enduring significant injuries to Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Boris Diaw, after shockingly cutting ties with Stephen Jackson with five games remaining, the Spurs have bounced back in tremendous fashion. It helps to go up against a troubled and depleted Lakers squad, but San Antonio has been as good on both sides of the ball as it’s been all season. And it’s the play of Parker and Ginobili that’s been most emblematic of this.

When you try to analyze the progress of recently injured players, you look for physical evidence in their play — whether it’s a feat of athleticism or an unorthodox ‘pet move’ — and both of the Spurs guards demonstrated extremely positive examples of their progress. Parker exhibited an array of unbelievable finishes around the basket, including one off his patented spin moves while driving to the basket on top of the And-1’s he connected on during Sunday’s game. We haven’t seen the pre-injury TP since he sprained his ankle nearly two months ago, especially given all the extra injuries he’s had the pleasure of dealing with along the way. But his performances as this series wound down were telling of his physical state. We kind of figured we’d once again see the All-Star point guard’s real self at some point, but we did not have a great feel for what Ginobili would be upon his return.

Then this happened.

 

As mundane and commonplace as a dunk is to most NBA teams, this aggressive slam points to the seemingly stable condition of Ginobili’s hamstring. When he makes moves like that, when Parker is performing dance moves in the paint, you know things are looking and feeling good for a team that’s about to enter a “track meet” against whichever second-round opponent it faces. It only gets more difficult from here, but with an upcoming extended break, the Spurs have the opportunity to regain full strength in the near future. The playoff version of “full strength,” anyway. San Antonio is looking at a potential matchup with a suddenly nuclear Golden State team that’s currently up 3-1 in its first-round series with the Denver Nuggets, so all cylinders must be firing if indeed the Warriors find their way to the Alamo City. But for now, the silver and black will rest and prepare.

The Lakers’ saga has finally come to an end — for now — while the Spurs’ story is just getting to the good part. But, in comparison, it’s just more of an indie flick than the blockbuster that has consumed Los Angeles.


  • Nima K.

    Nuclear it is! This Warriors team scares the bejesus out of me. We’re not equipped to play that level of youth energy. Maybe just KL is. And that arena? The intensity there is insane. Either Denver was playing stupid clumsy, or the Warriors are about to do to us what they did to the Mavs in 07. I hope the Nuggets at least put up a fight in the next game.

  • Nima K.

    That kid Curry was literally sucking energy from the crowd. This doesn’t look too good. I hope Pop is working some miracle.

  • BigBadBruce

    I get that the Warriors are not to be taken lightly but if we can minimize our turnovers, I think we can wrap it up in five games. It would be really nice to have Boris back for that series….

  • Andrew G

    One shooting threat is hardly enough to scare the Spurs. Curry will have a great career in this league, but handling an injured Nugget team that has no absolute scoring threat is hardly a test for the first round. The simple fact that the number 3 seed is putting up this pathetic of a fight should be an indication that they overachieved.

    Kawhi and Danny will lock down Curry, leaving… Bogut? Barnes? Thompson? Lee is out for the playoffs so their roster isn’t looking very strong. Add in their inexperience and chalk this up as a precursor for the WCF. OKC will be a similar beast with now one shooting threat that needs to be locked down, surrounded by role players that can be contained (assuming OKC makes it that far). I won’t even consider the Clippers to be a threat as long as Vinny is their coach, and Memphis is too inconsistent on the road to make a deep run in the playoffs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.chevez.142 Daniel Chevez

    Golden state minus david lee isn’t that scary. I like the spurs chances in the series, however I know the spurs wouldn’t sweep the warriors. Lets hope that denver can win at least one more game.

  • cxpowers29

    Question: Will Tracy Mcgrady be playing any minutes in this next round of playoffs? I think it would be great to have another big guy in the paint who can create his own shot and maybe find the open guy as well.

  • Tyler

    Miracle? They’re playing well, but they’re more than beatable.

    If you get back on defense (which SA always does) and make them play 5 on 5, they’ll be much less effective.

    And though GS has improved on the defensive end, I question how good Bogut will be at defending the PnR. If TP comes off the pick going downhill at Bogut, TP will carve them up.

  • junierizzle

    I just hope the league doesn’t change the fouling rule. Hey Dwight, how about you, I don’t know, learn to make freethrows.

    As for the next round, I like our chances with either one. I think this says more about the Nuggets than the Warriors. With no real star this would have eventually happened to the Nuggets.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000113089142 David Salazar

    So, so happy to sweep those bastards.

  • Matt

    But we have Pop, one of the top 2 or 3, if not the top, coach in the game today. The Spurs will play their type of game! We can run with Tony, KL, Danny Green – but we can also slow the game down and let TD and Manu play in the half court. The Spurs always impose their will on other teams – this will be no different. Playing this Denver team is nothing like playing a playoff tested, veteran, wise San Antonio team!

  • Colin

    “scares the bejesus out of me”

    I don’t know about that dude. They can shoot the hell out of the ball for sure and get up and down the court but I don’t see them beating SA 4/7 games. I say Spurs in 5 or 6 games due to the fact that we get back on defense better. Let Curry do his thing and minimize Jack/Thompson points and it should do the trick. The Spurs do things on offense and defense that limit what other teams do best. In a 7 game series I see us limiting the Warriors’ strengths well enough to win.

    Denver is not an accurate barometer of how to compare the Warriors to our style of play. McGee is a total non-factor cuz he can’t guard when teams go small and Faried is playing 70% at best not to mention that missing Gallinari is huge for them. Nugs aren’t hitting open shots that can keep them in the game, they should have won game 2 on that deficiency alone. Spurs defense is much better as we can go small if needed with Leonard/Diaw/Duncan or even Blair/Diaw/Leonard at times depending who the Warriors have out there. I think Blair can also give us good 10-15 min bursts, can finish at the rim against this group and would fit right in with running up and down the court. Not to mention having Bonner give us 10-15/game will be huge as his flaws will be hidden better and hopefully can keep hitting from 3.

    You’re right in that the Warriors dismantled the Mavs in 6 games 2007 first round. However, do you remember what happened next round? Loss in 5 games to a disciplined, skilled Jazz team who then went on to be overmatched against our Spurs in the WCF.

  • td4life

    It’s not the coaching or rules that are letting the fans and NBA down, it’s star bigmen who don’t bother to practice their FT shooting. #unprofessional

  • assistman

    You’re gonna look foolish and be embarrassed fearing GSW. We’ll own them.
    Only team left that would put up much of a fight is MEM, if they get that far. A battle of the the two best big guys in the league would be interesting.

  • Graham

    This, so much this. Feels a bit hollow cause they were so injury ravaged, but not giving them a game, and handing down convincing beatings each game is exactly what should happen.

  • idahospur

    Have to say I don’t like the idea of watching Stephen Curry possibly shooting the lights out, there is another kid named Kevin Durant who will be doing the exact same thing in the WCF. If it has to be done, let’s figure it out now, and show that this Spurs team is legit and beat the Lakers easily in 4 not because of their problems, but that the Spurs will be measuring the stadium rafters for a 5th banner. GO SPURS GO!
    PS Glad to see T-Mac but wish he could’ve made a basket.

  • Nima K.

    I’d like to remind you all that the Warriors led the league in 3-point accuracy during the regular season (40.3 percent). I think they’re shooting even higher in the playoffs. They’ve been consistent at it, and they’re faster than we are. Did you guys actually watch the Denver game? Playing inside the Oracle Arena is absolutely horrendous. Its what cause the likes of Danny Green to suddenly go AWOL. Plus, Timmy has a habit of getting injured playing against the Warriors. I reckon it’s happened twice in recent memory.

    On the bright side, I like the steady improvement I’m seeing from CJ, I’m anxious to see how Tmac and Baines will contribute, Bonner is actually playing defense, and I suspect Denver is going to put up a fight tomorrow to avert elimination. So not all is bad.

  • Nima K.

    Lets hope they’re beatable as you say. But I would be sounding off the upset alert sirens, if it were me. People here seem so confident in beating the warriors. But the Warriors PG has stats compaable to CP3, theyre an elite 3pt shooting team, and the Oracle Arena is NOTHING like the AT&T Center.

  • Graham

    They are a very one dimensional team, and they are winning because they are playing a team that they match up with perfectly. Once the shots aren’t falling, the warriors are not nearly as scary.

    Oracle is a tough place to play, but the major cogs on the team have done this song and dance many, many times. They will be fine. If we do play the warriors, We can win in six handily, or potentially 5 if we split in Oakland during games 3 and 4

  • Tyler

    There will be a healthy fear there – Pop and the veterans will make sure of that.

    But when you look at what GS likes to do offensively, the Spurs won’t let Curry and Jack get wherever they want on the court. And defensively, I can’t see GS getting enough stops to hold SA below 110.

    And like Graham points out, Denver is playing GS’s style of game – uptempo, frenetic, gambling for steals, etc. The Spurs won’t let that happen. They’ll take care of the ball, get back on defense, and take GS out of what they do best.

  • Len

    Once teams get to the Conference Semi’s, every series is tough. The Warriors pose no bigger challenge than Denver, Memphis or LAC does. OKC and our guys will have their hands full whoever gets matched up.

    And let me tell ya, Warriors fans should be saying the same thing about having to deal with a healthy Manu and Tony and a very spry Timmy D.

  • Len

    I have no doubt that the Spurs can slow down Curry. None

    It is Lee that gave the Spurs fits on the pick and pop and Jarrett Jack is a well known Spurs killer. They will miss Lee a lot if they make it past the Nugs and JJ is not playoff tested. Spurs will be fine.

  • Len

    If Z Bo starts playing like the 2011 version, the Grizz will be very very very tough. I’m not overlooking them at all.

  • Len

    I’m looking forward to seeing Green and KaWow take turns on Curry. These playoffs could potentially put Leonard on the national map.

  • NYC

    T-Mac ain’t gonna contribute squat. I was at game 4 at Staples Center. Faced with the fearsome sight of TMac in the final minutes of the game, D’Antoni recognized it was all over and at the next whistle pulled Gasol and emptied his bench, conceding defeat.

    You would think now would be the time for TMac to make a case that he can still play, right? Well even against 3rd string talent, TMac still looked like a ghost of a man and was completely invisible. He was slow getting up and down the court and seemed bothered by his defender. How hard could that defender possibly have been trying knowing his season was coming to an end??

    In fact, w 8 seconds left in the game, the defender started shaking TMac’s hand and exchanging pleasantries. Probably told TMac he watched him on TV growing up cause Mac had a huge smile across his face and was laughing it up. Bothered the hell out of me. You’re trying to prove to Pop you deserve playing time but instead of being professional and competing every second you are out there, you start chatting w the opposition and casually set the ball down by your feet while there’s still 5 seconds on the clock??? Do you know whose team you are on??

    If TMac’s name wasn’t printed on his jersey, I would have thought he was some D-Leaguer. He looked no better than Chris Quinn out there. TMac is our new Human Victory Cigar. I expect nothing out of this guy cause nothing is all he’s got left.

  • NYC

    Answer: No. He looked like such a fragile shell of himself a strong gust of wind would have knocked him over. His NBA days are over. If he’s lucky, he might get a ring riding the pine.

  • NYC

    I’m pretty sure he’s already there.

  • Andrew G

    I’m not going to defend T-Mac (and couldn’t care less about his playing time), but continuing to drive to the basket at the end of a 20 point game in the finale of a sweep is classless. If we were the ones losing, I could understand continuing to play on, but I think you’re expecting a little much out of garbage minutes.

    There’s no way Pop is going to give T-Mac any serious playing time unless we lose literally half our bench to injuries. He knows nothing of our system, and is just an extra body so we don’t end up looking like the Lakers in their final two games.

  • Graham

    At least in the next tier, up from ‘promising young player’ to ‘Well-Established second option’

  • Graham

    Part of that may be him not being in NBA shape. Perhaps a month or so in of rigorous conditioning he can be a viable 5 to 8 minute guy later in the playoff.

  • Graham

    Clips are a huge hurdle for them. They still need to grab one in Staples.

  • Andrew G

    We split the season series 2-2. Both of our losses were at Golden State, and came off the wrong end of back-to-backs. There are no back-to-backs in the postseason. Silence your sirens.

  • NYC

    I agree. Continuing to pound the other team when they have no chance at winning is classless. But setting the ball down at your feet seems disrespectful as well. TMac literally put the ball down on the court so he could bro-hug the opposition. Maybe I’m making too big a deal out of it, but if I were his teammate or coach, it would rub me the wrong way.

    In any case, even before that TMac looked like he had nothing left in the tank. He couldn’t get any separation from his defender and looked a step slower than everyone else getting up and down the court. I agree that he’ll never see any meaningful minutes.

  • Tim in Surrey

    All season long, the Nuggets have been one of the poorest teams in the league at defending against the three-point shot. Since the all-star break, Golden State has chosen to live and die by the three. As long as Denver lets them do that, they will lose. Last night, they changed things up, played a much more physical game and, not surprisingly, won. By contrast, the Spurs defend the three relatively well. I’m not too worried about Golden State’s resurgence, anymore than I was in 2007 when they upset the Mavericks in similar fashion.

  • Tim in Surrey

    “Silence your sirens.” I like that. Plus if you say it like Elmer Fudd it’s a palindrome.

  • Tim in Surrey

    Done.

  • Tim in Surrey

    I never like to see anybody injured. But this doesn’t feel hollow to me. It feels nice, actually.

  • Allan

    I’m very optimistic with our chances this year, doesnt stephen curry have that glass ankle? we can always just brutalize GSW, then OKC only have KD, no westbrook, no Harden, at last, this might be the year, that i see SAS takes on Miami heat in the finals. Griffin is injured, too!

  • Andrew G

    I feel dat TMac hate. That smug ass smile of his gets my blood boiling. Gets his first series victory after 16 years for riding the bench. For me, any and all of our losses, even if he plays 0 minutes, are getting blamed on him

  • Grahami

    Welp. Who knew Blake Griffin mattered so much to the Clips?

  • Graham

    At this rate, we could end up catching Memphis in the Conference Finals, unfortunately. Am not excited about having to slog out a series with them.

  • Graham

    Honestly? Big deal. Let the dude get some numbers for his first NBA game in a while. Shake some rust off. Maybe that smile was one of relief, now that he’s no longer cursed to stay in the first round. I reserve any and all judgement for his first meaningful minutes, and who knows when that will be.

  • Graham

    Forgot this bit: Let the guy enjoy his last bit in the league, he’s been a high tier player for so long and he was in China this year. This is probably his last chance in the League. He seems humble enough and has no problems riding pine till needed, which after Jax I think the team needed more than anything.

  • assistman

    This is my take as well, posted above (in reply to Nima K “bejusus” comment) before their game 5 road win at Staples… now that they are healthy, MEM is the toughest matchup we could face in the West. Since MIA will embarrass anybody in the Finals, it will be satisfying to get a real battle against a healthy team such as the Grizz on this season’s playoff reason before it comes to that.

  • spursburma

    how old are you

  • whatever, y’all aint gaming

    hey guys i used to read this site regularly but let’s be real real why are y’all mailing it in? it’s been almost a week there should be a preview of the warriorrs/nuggets or just SOMETHING. wth its the playoffs

  • yup

    here’s this for starters: yo we just swept LA. boom goes the refrain below that Oracle or Pepsi matters. Leonard has been waiting to shut down a guy like Curry, Pop has worked with Karl and knows how to school him, Parkers getting his legs back, Manu is getting his Manu back, and Durant misses Westbrook hard. I’m not saying let’s skip to the Heat just give us something to think about in the meantime I THOUGHT THAT WAS WHAT THIS SITE WAS FOR

  • Titletown99030507d

    Last Time I Checked Pop Wasnt Speeding Down Court On Transition Defense And Sticking A Hand In curry’s Face.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Dude He Had 2 SteAls In 30 Seconds. Give Him A Break.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Like I Said He Had Back To Back Steals. Looks Like Hes Trying Regardless Of The Point Spread.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Oh Please.