San Antonio Spurs 120, Los Angeles Lakers 89: Solid win despite injury to Splitter
It’s tough to take too much stock in a win over a team whose injury list was nearly as long as its active roster. If anything, you can rest easy knowing the San Antonio Spurs didn’t play down to the level of their opponent and have any real lapses in concentration in a 120-89 Game 3 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. With the win, the Spurs take a 3-0 series lead.
Missing Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks, in addition to the previously-absent Kobe Bryant, the Lakers were forced to start Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock at the two guard positions. A win for the Spurs seemed inevitable the minute it was announced that the two Steves wouldn’t play.
The biggest issue to come out of this game from a Spurs-perspective is that Tiago Splitter went down in the second half with a sprained ankle and will be out 7-10 days. Already missing Boris Diaw after back surgery to remove a cyst, the Spurs would be smart to finish off the Lakers in Sunday evening’s Game 4 in order to give their frontcourt ample time to rest before the second round. Yes, I’m writing off the Lakers already and I’m pretty comfortable in doing so. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that these Lakers were fairly mediocre to begin with and when half of their core is out, well, they’re not very good.
Throughout the game the Spurs were able to execute well enough to get good looks at the basket. San Antonio shot 61 percent from the field on the night and assisted on 30 of its 52 field goals. They had a 123.0 offensive efficiency. In short, it was a clinic.
Tim Duncan was the offensive star for the Spurs, hitting 12-of-16 from the field for 26 points, including finishing an alley-oop from Danny Green (5-of-7 for 11 points in his best game of the series) that was more reminiscent of a 22-year-old Tim Duncan than one that just turned 37 years of age. Duncan’s jumper, one that he wasn’t happy with for long stretches of the season, was on point in Game 3, and for most of this series, really. It’s a good thing too, with as much as the Lakers can pack the paint, Duncan’s ability to draw one of the Laker bigs away from the paint helps almost as much as Matt Bonner (six points, 2-of-3 shooting) knocking down shots.
San Antonio got another ho-hum 20 points and seven assists from Tony Parker, as well as 13 points from DeJuan Blair and 12 from Kawhi Leonard. Manu Ginobili only contributed six points on 2-of-4 shooting, not because he was bad, but simply because any Ginobili-ness was unneeded in Game 3.
Cory Joseph continues to have a strong first round as the backup point guard for San Antonio. CoJo had eight points on 4-of-8 shooting, four rebounds and four assists in Game 3. Each game he seems to be improving in little ways. In Game 3, he appeared more at ease at finding the spots on the floor where he was comfortable shooting from. His development over the last two weeks is a welcome sign for the Spurs, especially with the news that he might not have to face any minutes on Russell Westbrook should the Spurs and Thunder meet in the conference finals.
Outside of the injury to Tiago Splitter, it was exactly the game the Spurs needed. The rotations were fairly routine, with minutes able to be shortened slightly thanks to the lopsided outcome. Game 4 is on Sunday as the Spurs look to close out the Lakers and get healthier, as many of their other Western Conference foes face longer series and mounting injuries.