Can the Lakers sustain the momentum they built yesterday against the Rockets or was that an outlier against a downward trend? The Lakers will attempt to answer this question in the positive tonight against the former inhabitants of the cavernous Alamo Dome.
A peek behind the curtains: I’m actually doing this live blog after it has finished. I’m a little nervous as to whether the recording actually recorded the whole game. Ah, the wonders of technology! Speaking of which, here are some clips from a series of commercials running in 1993. A friend of mine remarked on the fairly prescient nature of the predictions. See it here.
The score listed after the time marker is the score before the result of the play. Lakers score is listed first and Spurs score second.
12:00 – LAL 0, SAS 0 – We start with a bad tip and a re-tip controlled by the forum blue and gold. Gasol shorts his first open 15 footer.
11:36 – 0, 0 – Finley strokes a nice jumper and Ariza drains a jumper of his own on the other end.
10:54 – 2, 2 – Doug Collins mentions that the Lakers miss The Space Cadet’s shooting and size. I start flinching involuntarily at the mention of Vladi’s name.
10:00 – 4, 4 – Bonner is tasked with guarding Lamar by himself and Odom overpowers/outlengths him and draws a foul on a made bucket. It’s very difficult to take a red-headed, pasty man seriously out there. He and Scalabrine probably have a support group for maligned red-headed NBA players. They’re the only members with Bill Walton acting as Chairman Emeritus.
9:43 – 7, 4 – Awkward possession for Wide Eyed Duncan as he drives across the lane. Pau hit the ball and Duncan left his feet but came down with it. Refs call a jump. I’m happy to relay the shock that was on Pop’s face.
8:34 – 9, 4 – Lakers are off to a great start. Kobe hits a step back jumper over the outstretched hands of the ginger. The Spurs turned the ball over out of bounds. And then Pau gets a tip-in off a wide open Kobe miss from the elbow to put the Lakers up 7. Spurs go with the tried and true early time out. TNT doesn’t go to commercial. That’s gotta be the first time a television broadcast has done that in a non-fourth quarter situation in forever. The announcers recap the past week or so for the Lakers (the ups and downs).
8:37 – 11, 4 – Parker collapses the Lakers defense and Finley finds himself wide open for three and he drills it. Great use of the timeout.
7:55 – 13, 7 – Great move by Finley to take his man off the dribble and drop in a left-handed floater over the secondary defender, Lamar. I’m not sure if Odom expected the shot to go up so quickly.
7:12 – 15, 9 – Lakers again force a turnover and in semi-transition Fisher smashes a three pointer home. Next time down, Ariza tries his luck and finds himself a winner. As drastic as the 11 point lead looks, it could very easily be a much closer game if these last two shots had missed, as they eventually will. It’s not time for the Spurs to panic and if you’re the Lakers, you plan for the maturity of the Los Spurs to set in and their defense to make adjustments.
5:45 – 23, 9 – Ariza picks Finley’s pocket and the Lakers come back the other way but don’t convert it into points. Coming back the other way, Kobe leaves Bowen all alone to provide support inside and stuffs Finley’s layup out of bounds. Spurs get a Kurt Thomas long two to fall. Lakers will live with that.
4:23 – 25, 11 – Lakers play some tough defense on the Spurs and Lamar stays with Tony Longoria enough to alter his shot at the end of the buzzer. Kobe misses a gimme (for him) and Ariza gets a steal again. Kobe gets another shot to fall. He’s playing in rhythm and smooth. Fears of a letdown are laid to rest. The Lakers are ready and willing for this one.
3:10 – 27, 11 – Odom does his patented throw the ball of the defender while falling out of bounds and we get an automatic timeout. I am astonished at how effective the Lakers have been against the Manu-less Spurs. There is a Pau Gasol look-alike behind the Spurs bench except he’s wearing glasses. I feel you should know this. Is Popovich so maniacal that he’s going to send out a Gasol doppelganger in order to confuse the Lakers?
2:23 – 31, 15 – Lakers force Duncan into a difficult shot over Odom. Odom then gathers up a loose offensive rebound on the other end and deposits it through.
1:19 – 33, 17 – Ime Udoka is aghast at the foul that was just called on him. He planted an elbow into Luke’s jaw while holding the ball and he can’t figure out how he got caught. Umm, Ime, the refs are mainly watching the person with the ball and the person guarding the person with the ball. I think I’ve solved the case.
0:12 – 33, 17 – Kobe’s just going one on one on against his defender. Farmar is going to have an interesting time guarding Mason and being guarded by him. I’m not sure if Farmar can take advantage of his quickness advantage when Mason will have a significant height advantage. All that is going through my head while Kobe saunters around the perimeter for about 10 seconds before settling for a pull-up J in front of Bowen that draws water. Mason misses the last-second shot at the other end.
This is the point in the movie where the annoying buddy says, “this is going good. Tooooo good.”
11:30 – 35, 20 – Spurs aren’t taking care of their defensive glass as Luke corrals an offensive rebound. And then the Lakers cough it up.
10: 35 – 35, 20 – Finley is reaching into the way-back machine. He hits a pull-up jumper on the right baseline over Vujacic. Nicely done sir.
9:42 – 37, 22 – I’m okay with helping off Kurt Thomas when he’s standing 20 feet from the bucket but perhaps you don’t just watch him from 10 feet away while he shoots a flat-footed set shot. He’s old, not dead.
8:51 – 37, 24 – The Spurs look disjointed on offense. They’re getting some penetration but not really doing much with it. Without players looking to slash and score, the Lakers aren’t being put in scramble mode.
8:20 – 37, 24 – Kurt Thomas tries to send Farmar to the hospital with a torn ACL in a loose ball situation and after the refs reward the Spurs with the ball out of bounds, the Spurs get a corner three. Lakers miss at the other end and Josh Powell and Kurt Thomas get tangled up for the second time in a row. Something to keep an eye on.
7:30 – 37, 26 – Pau hits a nice free throw jumper. Finley hits a corner three. Powell and Thomas are tangled again. Lakers don’t get back on defense but Thomas catches his own airball and gets called for traveling. Spurs are making a push.
5:58 – 41, 31 – Farmar gets a nice block from behind on Finley showing he’s not going to quit. Kobe tightropes the baseline and finds Powell in the lane after Powell built a house and filled out a change of address form. Powell notices the Spaniard open and hits him for an easy jumper from 8 feet. Pop wants another timeout. The Lakers are playing superb. Can they sustain this level of play?
5:36 – 43, 31 – Mbenga gets called for a foul bodying up Duncan. Lamar shows a great bit of veteran leadership and encourages him. Fisher believes that he’s some sort of extraordinary shot blocker as he goes for Parker’s fake. Not much contact but the refs are fooled into giving Parker two free throws.
4:40 – 45, 31 – After an Mbenga bucket, the Lakers starting five (except Mbenga for Pau) play stifling defense forcing a turnover from the Spurs.
3:45 – 45, 31 – Great hustle by the Lakers to pick up a rebound. Lamar really ran after the deflected ball and found himself one on one with Duncan. Lamar will not be denied! Two points in Duncan’s grill. Despite conventional wisdom, that does not make Duncan soft. Drew Gooden makes an unscheduled appearance. We’ll see how he does with his new mates.
2:08 – 49, 32 – Ariza hasn’t quite mastered the turnaround jumper off the dribble. Either that or a huge gust of wind blew through the arena because his shot came up about 14.2 inches short.
1:28 – 49, 34 – There’s a couple things that the cautious me is thinking. First of all, it’s easy to think this game is over but we haven’t yet played an entire half. The Spurs will have just as much time in the second half to erase the lead that the Lakers built in the same amount of time. Secondly, even if the Lakers win going away, the Spurs have been playing too good to dismiss them as non-competition. Especially with Manu not suiting up.
0:03 – 51, 38 – Not the prettiest last second play ever but Pau makes a strong move inside to get a jump hook to fall over Duncan. Odom was the initiator on that one, which is unusual but Mason did a good job battling Kobe and denying him the ball. Lakers can’t let that happen very often if they want to keep the game out of reach.
Halftime takes forever! Yammer yammer about nothing. “But nomuskles, aren’t you watching on DVR?” Hmm… yeah. I don’t know why I was watching the halftime show or the commercials. It’s been a long day. Finally Doug Collins has some actual analysis highlighting Michael Finley’s success and the collapsing Lakers defense that gave up some good looks from outside.
11:34 – LAL 53, SAS 38 – Lakers play pretty good defense but Finley is having a rejuvenated effort. He sinks a tough jumper over Pau and then Bonner comes and gets the luckiest shot ever to fall in from three. It bounced off the back iron about 8 feet in the air and dropped in. If he was playing pool, it would’ve been ball in hand.
10:11 – 55, 45 – Popovich blamed the first half on a timid first quarter by Duncan and Parker.
9:36 – 57, 45 – Lakers foul Duncan in the post. Kobe left Mason to double Duncan when Pau had good position. To my eye, that’s a little bit of a breakdown. Cheating off Mason isn’t really a winning strategy based on how well he’s shot this year.
9:04 – 57, 46 – Spurs fans are upset when the refs call Thomas for pushing Pau in the back off a Duncan miss. I don’t blame them. Looked like Pau just mistimed his jump.
8:46 – 57, 46 – NO FEAR! Ariza takes it strong to the hole and despite Finley raking his arms Ariza manages to finish off the glass. He also gets the free throw. Coming back the other way, Duncan draws a foul on Fisher and hits 1 of 2. Oh no. Duncan follows his own miss and gets an easy layup.
8:16 – 60, 49 – Kobe baits the ref into calling a foul on a jumper from 18 feet. Mason is fingered the culprit for tagging Kobe oh so gently.
7:45 – 62, 49 – Interesting sequence. Ariza makes a great steal on a bad pass. Fisher misses the layup on the break. Pau misses the putback dunk (contested). Spurs run the other way with an advantage and Finley misses a three from the right wing. Lakers hustle back down and early in the shot clock Kobe draws a foul against Duncan. [post-game note: this turned out to be a rare sloppy sequence in this otherwise highly skilled game]
7:25 – 64, 49 – Mason drills a three from the left side. Too open. Spurs trying to get the deficit under 10.
6:39 – 64, 52 – And they do it with a Tony Parker three wide open. TNT shows us the corner view. Kobe found Fisher for a three of his own to answer back! Spurs seem to have gotten some handle on the Lakers’ defense.
5:37 – 67, 56 – Tony Parker weaves his way around some screens and hits a nice looking jumper. The Lakers answer is a Derek Fisher contested three from 26 feet. Clang. Ugh. Spurs are making a push against the starters. It’ll be time for the bench to start coming in soon. How will they fair?
4:25 – Wow. Tony Parker just slices the Lakers interior defense into little tiny pieces. Just call him Sushi Chef Longoria-Parker
3:36 – Kobe gets a good seal against Bowen and Lamar gives him a great entry pass from the top of the circle. Spurs collapse and Kobe finds a diving Pau who is fouled in the act.
2:38 – 71, 60 – Kobe makes a great defensive play. He turned it over but hustled back into the play to make Finley alter the point blank layup. He missed.
2:15 – 71, 60 – ::throws shoe at TV:: tony parker is hitting his stride. He ties the lakers hands on defense and drops it off for Tim Duncan for the lay-in and the foul on Kobe. I guess it was too much to ask for the Lakers to keep a quick guard like Parker contained for an entire game. Duncan’s free throw is no good after the timeout and Spurs only trail by 9.
1:58 – 71, 62 – Luke!!!! Offensive rebound and putback in Duncan’s face.
1:20 – 75, 62 – Ime uses the aerodynamic advantage of the shaved head to drop in a three point jumper.
1:07 – 75, 65 – Kevin Harlan says that Mason fouled “the angular Odom.” That made me chuckle. What does that mean? Is Odom sporting a protractor in his knee brace tonight?? He does the make one, miss one thing at the charity stripe.
0:48 – 76, 65 – Odom is enjoying his night tonight. He swats away George Hill’s timid layup. Unfortunately Tony Parker uses the out of bounds play to get himself a nice looking jumper.
0:08 – 78, 67 – Spurs turn it over on the bad Tony Parker pass. Farmar is forced out of bounds and the refs give the ball back to the Spurs. Parker takes advantage of the extra possession to hit a nice runner while drawing the foul. He hits the free throw. Lakers finish the quarter only up 8. They need to be more disciplined against Tony Parker, that’s for sure.
11:30 – 78, 70 – Lakers give up back to back threes and a fast break dunk. Three point game. 8 points in practically zero time.
10:49 – 78, 75 – Needing a bucket the Lakers turn to the always reliable….Walton? Walton drives into the paint from the corner and dumps it off for Pau who gets the bucket and the foul. Pau makes the free throw. Finley drains a three. Their defense is much more intense and the Lakers are forced into a frustration foul/turnover.
9:59 – 81, 78 – With the crowd shouting for DE-FENSE! Powell makes a nice face-up shot in the post to quiet the crowd a little. Spurs turn it over. Lakers repay the favor. Finley can’t make the Lakers pay.
8:51 – 83, 78 – with Powell being guarded by the much smaller and more perimeter oriented Udoka, he goes into the post and uses a nice spin move to get a layup that he misses but follows for a tip in. Great show of confidence by Powell in hostile territory these two latest trips down. Spurs get a point taken away after the refs determine Mason was stepping on the line on one of his shots.
8:13 –85, 77 – Vujacic has hit his second basket of the night. That’s got to feel good for him.
7:30 – 87, 77 – altogether now, LUUUUUKKKEEE. Nice back door cut and a quick jump layup away from the defender. Lakers on an 8-0 run the past 3 minutes.
7:18 – 89, 77 – Tim Duncan is shooting free throws. It occurs to me that it still seems silly that the refs have numbers on their jerseys. And Kobe checks back in to the game having not taken a shot since the 2nd quarter.
6:25 – 89, 91 – Lakers are running with their starting lineup except Powell instead of Odom. Kobe gets a tough jumper to fall and then Parker waltzes into the paint before the Lakers get setup for an easy layup. Walton then dishes out some punishment to the rookie, George Hill and gets a layup of his own. Lakers up by 10.
5:25 – 93, 83 – Duncan isn’t going away quietly. Odom beats Thomas off the dribble and looks to have a good angle to the bucket but Duncan pins the layup against the glass.
4:18 – 93, 83 – Michael FINLEY!!!! Drills a three from the right side. Ridiculous how well he’s playing.
3:10 – 93, 88 – Lakers get a much-needed bucket. Kobe is doubled on the wing and with an unconventional pass he finds Pau with a water-polo pass on the opposite block against the smaller Parker. Pau goes dunkalicious.
2:55 – 95, 88 – Thomas then gets his own jumper to fall. Lakers collapsed again onto Duncan.
2:28 – 95, 90 – Kobe’s gone cold. He misses another shot. Parker hits a three and sets the crowd into a frenzy! Spurs pull within two and wield the momentum like a sledgehammer of doom.
1:47 – 95, 93 – Sideline pick and roll, Kobe and Pau. Shut down. Kobe iso. for three. over Hill. GOOD! Holy crap I just tinkled on myself. That shot was a huge dagger in the Spurs’ armor. They played disciplined to 2 seconds on the shot clock and Kobe hits it anyway. What else could they have done? At the other end, we witness a Timmy D jump hook for two. Lakers up 3.
1:22 – 98, 95 – ball in Kobe’s hand. Pressure release is Odom at the circle and he finds Gasol in the low post for a tough finish. Lakers reach 100 first. Will Lawler’s law hold?
1:10 – 100, 95 – ODOM! Forces the jump ball against Timmy and the Lakers control the tip.
0:30 – 100, 95 – Intense bit of defense by the Lakers. Finley ends up with a fairly reasonable look but it was contested and it comes up short after he was forced to create off the dribble. The Spurs want that one back. Vujacic is fouled and gets two freebies. Lakers should win this one now.
Can the rest of you breathe? What a terrific battle for the Lakers and Spurs tonight. It’s a great feeling, I’m sure, to come out on top against the second place team in the West. Sometimes these live blogs turn out to be one-line zingers but tonight there was no place for that. The Spurs came roaring back in the 2nd half and the Lakers needed all their weapons to fend them off. Can’t say enough about the will to win tonight. Not to mention the contributions by the bench. Powell, Ariza, Luke and Vujacic had some timely buckets. Hats off the Spurs for their effort as they refused to fold in the face of a huge Lakers avalanche in the first quarter.