Preview & Chat: The San Antonio Spurs

Kurt —  January 12, 2010

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Records: Lakers 29-8 (1st in West) Spurs 22-13 (5th in West)
Offensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 108.2 (12th in league), Spurs 111.3 (4th in league)
Defensive points per 100 possessions: Lakers 100.9 (1st in league) Spurs 104.4 (10th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum
Spurs: Tony Parker, Keith Bogans, Richard Jefferson, Tim Duncan, DeJuan “who needs an ACL” Blair

Lakers Tonight: Pau Gasol is a no go again tonight, although he is on the trip. I don’t know if he will play tomorrow or is just along so he can check out Dealey Plaza tomorrow. UPDATE: Phil Jackson said pregame Gasol is likely for Friday against the Clippers.

UPDATE #2: Luke Walton has been activated and may play a little tonight. Adam Morrison is out with a sore throat so Walton may get his minutes.

The Spurs Coming In: The Spurs started the season slowly, 9-9, and they just looked old and slow. But since then they have gone 13-4 and have started to look like the elite team everyone expected them to be prior to the season.

What is different about this Spurs team is that they are a very good offensive team with a pretty good defense — the opposite of how they were built for so many years. Tim Duncan is at the heart of the improved offense: While his points per game is the same as always (20) he is doing it on fewer shots. The key is his 10-15 foot shots are falling at a 52% clip, when he had never shot better than 46% from there before. Of course, he continues to rebound well, pass and do everything else well, too.

The other key for the Spurs is that the core trio is healthy. Tony Parker continues to slash to the rim and Manu Ginobili brings an all-around game. We’ve all seen them do it for years. What makes this interesting is this is a deeper Spurs team — every player getting significant minutes not named McDyess is shooting better than the league average true shooting percentage. Richard Jefferson has been solid (not spectacular), giving the Spurs needed athleticism, and DeJuan Blair and Matt Bonnner have played well along the font line.

For the veteran Spurs team, I’m not sure this game has great significance. But for their fans there seems to be some: They are not convinced this team is a contender. Beating the Lakers, even a slumping Lakers without their second best player, could give the fan base confidence.

Spurs blogs: They have a couple of good ones: 48 Minutes of Hell and Pounding the Rock (which has been consistently great for years). You should check out both.

Keys to game: There are no secrets here. These are the two best franchises of the last decade and neither Popovich or Jackson have really changed what they do in terms of Xs and Os. This is really a matter of execution.

For the Lakers, that has to start with stopping penetration. Parker and Ginobili are two of the best off the high screen in the game and the Lakers need to play this well for a change — the bigs need to come out and not let those two just turn the corner and go. What may be more troubling in Parker doesn’t really need a pick to get by anyone in the league, his quickness and hesitation move will do it. Fisher needs to bring the energy he did against Brandon Jennings, and the Lakers bigs need to be ready and rotate. Farmar has to bring smart play off the bench.

The Kobe/Manu matchup is going to be fun to watch tonight. Manu is a good, pesky defender and Kobe has shot 31.8% over his last four games — can Kobe find his shot or keep himself in check tonight?. Kobe will bring the energy on the defensive end tonight, he can’t play free safety off Manu (who is shooting 38.2% from three, so you have to follow him out to the line).

Duncan is Duncan, he is going to get his. I just love watching play against other teams. The key for Odom and Bynum (both likely will get time on him) is not to let him go off, not to let him carry them. He can hit the midrange shot so you have to come out on him, you can’t sag back.

One advantage the Lakers have is the undersized Blair trying to slow Bynum (they could put Duncan on Bynum, but then Odom has an advantage). Blair is strong and has played well, but he is an undersized rookie, nor is he quick enough to handle Odom. The Lakers need to go at him and get their points inside out. When the doubles come the Lakers need to knock down the open shot off the pass.

First game of a tough road back to back. The easiest of those games to win is the first one, the Lakers need to go after it tonight.

Where you can watch: 5:30 p.m. start on KCAL 9 here in Los Angeles, NBATV has the game nationally, and of course ESPN 710 radio.

227 responses to Preview & Chat: The San Antonio Spurs

  1. Look at the shot chart- compare the number of Xs for the Lakers in the lane to the Os for the Spurs.


  2. Well, I missed another Laker loss tonight. Reading the comments it sounded like a very ugly one at that. Like 2/3 of our players are injured, huh? Luuuke is back I saw on the box score, he should help us down the line now. The bench is going to have to come through for us, we have no starters left it seems like. I am not looking forward to the Dallas game at all with these injuries to our team at the moment. You have to stay optimistic, right?

    “Time has a wonderful way of showing us what really matters.” – Margaret Peters


  3. As good as our bench played tonight with their minutes, look over the course of the game.

    Spurs bench 42 total points.
    Lakers bench 20 total points (that number is even high for their normal output on the road)

    More help needed indeed.


  4. For us to repeat someone on the bench is going to have to get hot at the right time.


  5. Ray, here’s the thing about Boston being healthy while many think they wont be healthy at the end of the season I happen to think there is a strong chance they can and will. KG has been out a few weeks recently but hes actually been quoted as saying as he could play right now and Doc even said he could but they dont need him to in order to win games right now because they are a deep team. They have a luxury of resting players like Pierce and KG who are older without losing much ground on the top in the league record wise. If this trend keeps up they have a strong chance of being healthy by giving their older players a chance to rest and heal until playoffs roll around. KG only has a bruised knee btw. They are so deep they let Leon Powe walk, yes he had knee surgery but Cleveland picked him up and he’s supposed to be back to playing soon so it’s a pretty good sign of depth on their frontcourt especially.


    • I have watched a couple of recent Celtics games, and if they have impressed Lakers8884 and he thinks their bench has looked good, well then we can just agree to disagree. We do agree that if they Celtics are healthy in the Finals (and make it) they would be a tough match for the Lakers, but that is six months fron now, who knows who will be healthy then. (And by the way, KG said he was going to be able to play right up to the playoffs last year, too.)


  6. 187, considering i’m the one who’s been approving the comments all night long in the spam filter, tough to pin that one on me ;-).

    and Lakers8884, you keep saying, “If Boston was healthy…” Well what about when we’re healthy? We’ve had our full squad at 100% for 0 games this year. Pau missed the first 11 games of the season, and has now missed the last 4. Bynum got hurt for 2 games shortly before Gasol came back. Then Artest missed 5 games after Christmas. Luke has been hurt since November. And Kobe has been playing with his hurt finger for weeks now. Our team is nowhere close to 100%, so to judge them as if this is their full potential is just utterly fallacious.

    I can’t see how you can say that our bench doesn’t have the ability to improve internally. That’s like saying basketball players don’t improve by playing basketball; they are what they are and they never change. Didn’t you see Trevor Ariza last year? He could barely shoot when he started the season, then he shot some ridiculous 47% from three in the playoffs. When the season started, teams knew that all Trevor could do was drive to the hole and dunk, so they played way off him and forced him to shoot wide-open threes. Eventually, he learned how to make them, and he made teams pay in the playoffs. And that doesn’t even get into the area of how it’s completely and utterly impossible for us to improve the bench via trade due to salary constraints, but we’ve already covered that in previous posts.

    197, you do realize we were within 6 with 5 minutes to go, right? Then we went cold for 2 minutes and the lead was back up to 14. If we had one of either Kobe or Pau on the floor, this game would’ve easily been winnable. San Antonio just killed us with their passing away from the help when we couldn’t cut off the passing lanes or rotate quickly enough. These are all things that are easily solved in the playoffs when coaches have time to game plan. Don’t look at the final score and call this a blowout, because the only reason this game looked like a blowout in the end is because the Spurs jacked up threes when the Lakers had given up.


  7. Boston beat Orlando on the road without Pierce, it was a pretty impressive win. Pierce is the Kobe of the Celtics, while they have other great pieces around him, he is the offensive assassin and the one who carries the load offensively when needed.


  8. Zephid,I never said Im judging the Lakers on their full potential right now because they clearly arent. I said I compare us to Boston at the end of the day because to me in the end for the title it’s gonna be them or us, I said at the end of the season that’s the team that worries me. I’ve just been comparing them in the fact that the injuries the Lakers have had arent really that significant in comparison to what Boston has faced, or even a team like Portland.

    I never said the bench cant improve I just said I dont see it happening. Zephid ur telling me you think Ammo, or Powell, DJ, Sasha can all improve? The only players I realistically see of being able to improve are Jordan and Shannon and Luke. Lamar is a semi starter so I dont include him in the discussion. I see those players are being limited to their abilities, they may be able to improve as a UNIT but that remains to be seen because alot of those guys dont see significant time and without playing time there isnt much room for improvement because practice can only take you so far with improvement and like I said their talent isn’t really quality, they are what they are and we are gonna have to accept it or try to make some moves as unlikely as it may be.

    So if you all want me to stop comparing the Lakers to Boston that’s fine, I’ll start saying Cleveland or Orlando even though they are in a current slump. I just think hypothetically Boston is the best in the East if healthy. I just think alot of people on here hate even mentioning the word Celtics.


  9. In Boston’s recent losses 5 of the past 10 games look at what Lakers8884 is talking about.

    Loss at Clippers, lose on a GW by Baron Davis
    Paul Pierce misses the game. Tony Allen starts scoring 10 points grabbing 10 boards. The bench performs well minus Rasheed (had a poor shooting game)

    Loss at Warriors, Close game Celtics up 16 after 3 but lose in 4th. Pierce out again, Tony Allen starts and plays well with a solid stat line and the bench performs well.

    Loss at Suns, Blowout much like the lakers game before. KG and Pierce both do not play. True bench player points in this game, 57 even though it’s a loss. This was the only game they played that wasnt close.

    Loss at Atlanta, No KG, no Tony allen. Sheed starts and plays subpar, only two other bench players get significant time and both play subpar. Atlanta is Boston’s kryptonite should come as no surprise they create matchup problems.

    Loss to Atlanta in Boston. No KG and No Sheed. Bench play solid overall especially from Big Baby and great D by Scalabrine on Josh Smith (yes seriously). Lose a close game where the Hawks played very well, like I said earlier Atlanta is Boston’s kryptonite.

    I guess the main point is many bench players who are average can step in for starters and they dont miss a beat. They lost twice to a great Atlanta team, once to the lowly Warriors, and two losses to two average teams. I’d say that’s pretty solid considering how many of their best players were missing. Note: Marquis Daniels was missing during all of these games and he has been a star off the bench for them all season. That’s pretty good evidence indicating depth, when your missing the two best players on your team. Guys like Sheed and Tony Allen step in and play starter’s minutes so while they may not be the bench anymore, this reduces the effect of the rest of the bench because you arent dressing as many players as normal, so the true measure of the bench is how they play in starters minutes too.


  10. “I just think hypothetically Boston is the best in the East if healthy. I just think alot of people on here hate even mentioning the word Celtics.”

    And hypothetically the Lakers are the best team in the league if healthy. Hypothetical scenarios are meaningless.


  11. Maybe meaningless to you T. Rogers, but do you think when Cleveland and Orlando and the Spurs reloaded their roster with talent they were saying well the Lakers or Boston may not be healthy blah blah. No they made moves because hypothetically if both those teams (lakers and celtics) were healthy they needed the moves they made to stay competitive and give them the best chance to win. Say it’s meaningless but I call that proper preparation. They know the POSSIBILITY of what they may face in the playoffs and they made moves accordingly. If the possibility doesnt worry you even slightly then thats your opinion.


  12. Lakers8884, a few more things to counter your points.

    1. I question the Celtics health because of their age and their recent history. KG may say he is ready to play, but KG has a lot of pride, of course he’s going to say he is going to play. He has the same intensity level as Kobe does. Regardless if it is just a bruise, it is a bruise to his knee that he has injured before. At his age and his nba mileage, I question it.

    2. The Lakers don’t need AMMO, or DJ, or Powell or Sasha to improve. Those four players are “what you see is what you get”. They are spot players. Our bench relies on Odom/Bynum (whoever you want to put as a bench player with our lineup) Farmar, Shanwow, and Luke Walton. That bench can improve. And those four (five) can improve for the rest of the year. They do not need AMMO, DJ, powell, or sasha to be a good bench.

    Looking at the box score tonight. Here is the line that bothers me:

    2/6, 0/2 3pt. 10 points total. With Pau and Kobe down, I think we can agree that Odom should be more aggressive no?

    But Bynum shot 23 times! that has to be a career high right?


  13. @Eric, that’s fine, but i bring it up again: When those guys went down, do you think Celtics fans believed that the bench would have played that well?

    Turn that to our team, we have no proof that our bench wont step up when called upon. And if Kobe does skip some games, they get to play with the ball more. If the bench doesn’t step up when the starters go down, then we can have this conversation. But I don’t think Celts fans would believe that the bench players would step up as well as they have.


  14. “They lost twice to a great Atlanta team…”

    When did the Hawks become great? They had a hot start which proved to be just that, nothing more.

    When did we start taking a BCS/College football approach to anaylzing basketball? Team A is better than Team B because both teams played Team C and Team A had a more “impressive” win. Oh, and Team A and Team B have yet to actually play each other head to head. Come one, guys. Let’s keep our heads here.

    The Lakers are inconsistent. They are having a myriad of issues right now. Fortunately for them the playoffs don’t start until April. They have time to get it together. I really hope they do. But can we please stop acting like other teams are perfect? If you have to qualify a comment about Boston with some statement of conditional health then just avoid making the comment altogether.

    It becomes nothing more than speculation. This is especially true when talking about a Celtics team that led their entire fanbase on for half of last season regarding KG’s status. We could be witnessing an encore of that right now. So let’s hold off on declaring Boston the big green monster of the East.


  15. I don’t want to compare benches and say we need to be more like anyone. True, every other elite team improved their benches. We have to improve our bench not just because they are not playing well, but because our starters need rest. Kobe does not like sitting any games, so the only way he can rest is if we can get a lead and sit him down. Now the only way we can do that is to get a lead and hold it. We can’t do that with the current bench.

    The Lakers need a scorer who can come of the bench and fill it up. He won’t of course be Kobe, but he should be able to take over a game. They also need a lock down defender, preferably a small foward who is versatile. Someone who can guard anywhere from a two to a four. We also need a replacement for Fisher. An intelligent player who can figure out the triangle, someone who shoots open threes well and understands defense.

    We had two of the three players (Caron Butler and Trevor Ariza). [Edited for trade speculation.] We need players who are intelligent to know that being a part of something special is worth playing fewer minutes. San Antonio players get it and our players should too.

    To all of those that complain about money. It has already been spent. If you have spent $100 million, then $10 should not matter. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox spend money. They continue to spend and are now in the position to win world titles for years to come. Why do what the Angels have done spend money and then stop when the price gets a little high. The only thing that has guaranteed them is a division title. In order to win the prize, you have to spend the prize money.


  16. busboys, The Yankees and Red Sox have no cap and each have their own TV network that help pay for the players. And Buss has already said he’d like to bring down the costs.

    Buss has to pay a dollar for every dollar over the luxury tax threshold which next year will be around 69 million. We’re already at 79 million next year for 8 players. Plus Buss is getting old. Plus he has to pay Phil Jackson. Plus the economy, cuz we should always talk about the economy.


  17. Yes Kurt I do sound like that because I am. I also live my life the same way.

    ray – What makes more fiscal sense Hinrich at $9.5 million or Ammo being paid $5.2 for sitting and $3-$5 million for Jordan Farmar?


  18. In addition, Dr. Buss does not run the Lakers anymore, his son handles 90% of the day to day.


  19. It makes fiscal sense to get rid of Ammo and Farmar for next year and get another two or three players with that money to sit in the bottom of the bench.

    And though Dr. Buss doesn’t run the lakers anymore, he still signs the checks.


  20. Personally, I would rather that Sasha’s salary go to farmar and get rid of sasha.

    But hindsight is 20-20

    Remember we got Ammo as a salary dump. We traded Radmonovic’s extra year deal for AMMO so we could get rid of ammo after this year. That made fiscal sense to me. And especially since we got Brown as a bonus works out fine.

    The salary I really don’t like is Sasha’s. But I will admit that I really don’t like him. He’s a practice machine, but in the game it doesn’t happen


  21. T. Rogers when did anyone on here say any team was perfect? It’s funny to be that people here cant stand me bringing up Boston okay fine, can you say with the same heart we are a better team than Cleveland? They pretty much dismantled us on Christmas day and while it was one game, it exposed everything about our weaknesses to the rest of the league.

    I mean come on people why is everyone saying our bench is not consistent? EVERY analyst in the NBA knows it just listen to them talk, go back and look at every box score from the season, rarely does the bench step up, they have for maybe 5-7 games. The starters primarily do most of the scoring and defense the entire game.

    Also Atlanta IS a great team they have become one of the elites just watch them. They have grown up and they can beat anyone in this league. They have beaten Boston 3 times, they almost beat Cleveland 2 (they gave them all the trouble in the world) and they are probably equal on talent level to a team like Denver. Dismiss them all you want but they are a heck of a team just watch them play. Discussing them is not comparing them on paper it’s from their body of work and how they have played all season long. So say it’s speculation or whatever to face a Boston team or Cleveland or Orlando if you think our team matches up with their team thats your opinion but this month we will see for sure but with alot of the problems the Lakers have shown its doubtful it’s something that can be fixed by a team playing better.

    From now on I wont bring up Boston on these boards anymore cuz it seems people cant handle the idea of them being healthy (whether or not its a possibility or not). So I will just bring up Cleveland and Orlando and even the Spurs now. SPECULATION enables a team to be better prepared for another team because if you speculate you cant guard someone with your current Roster you make the moves to better suit your team to give yourself a chance to win. As shown by Cleveland bringing Shaq in to help them give them a better chance of beating us and Orlando.

    Oh and also as for the bench, last year it was NEVER truthfully solid until the finals when Lamar finally showed up. All year everyone knew that was the Lakers biggest weakness, by the end of the year. These problems have not changed, they have only gotten worse. That most could argue is a fact especially if you watch the Lakers last year.

    Ray, I dont know if Boston fans knew their bench would step up in KG’s absence last year but it doesnt matter the fact is they did and they are doing it again right now but enough with Boston I was just answering you question.