Lakers/Spurs: Ginobili Ruined Easter

Phillip Barnett —  April 4, 2010

San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Lakers.

For the second straight game, the Taco Unit was in for the Lakers to close out the game, Kobe struggled with his jump shot and Pau Gasol put up good numbers. Also, for the second straight game in Staples Center, one of the Western Conference’s top 2 teams left the arena with a loss – this time it was the Lakers. The Spurs came into Staples Center, weathered the Lakers early storm and walked out with a 100-81 win and a spot in the playoffs. With the Lakers loss, the Cleveland secured home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

Less than a month ago the Lakers went into San Antonio and gutted their way to a nine-point win after being down nine at the half. I remember saying that the Spurs weren’t the same when they don’t run their offense through Tim Duncan, and their early three point success ultimately led to their doom. Apparently, the Spurs’ coaching staff saw the same things we saw over here at FB&G and gave the Lakers a much heavier dose of Duncan. In the previous meeting, Duncan was two for 11 with six points, taking only two foul shots. This afternoon, Duncan was 10 for 14 with 24 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. He took five foul shots and the Spurs were +16 with him on the floor as opposed to -12 in their previous meeting.

Also, Manu Ginobili, who has really been playing like the ’06 Ginobili as of late, had a much bigger impact on the game than he did in his previous meeting. With about a minute left in the second quarter, Ron Artest and Ginobili got tangled up on an inbounds play and were both called for technical fouls. At that point in the game, Ginobili had nine points. After the double-technical, Ginobili scored five unanswered points and had an assist to help extend the Spurs lead from three to eight going into the half. Ginobili finished with 32 points, five rebounds and five assists, leading his team in both scoring and assists on the afternoon.

The last huge difference was the performance of Kobe. In their previous meeting, Kobe was 11 for 16 with 24 points and six assists. Today, he shot an abysmal eight for 24, scoring 22 points with eight rebounds and six assists. Even with Gasol playing as well as he was, Kobe forced a lot of shots and was never able to get into rhythm. In the first quarter, he seemed like he was trying hard to get his jumper to fall, missing from 22, 7, 21 and 17 feet. As soon as he entered the game for Shannon Brown in the second quarter, he was called for an offensive foul, then turned the ball over on their next possession. He missed two free throws, was called for a technical foul and turned the ball over one more time right before the end of the half that led to a Ginobili dunk.

As bad as Kobe played, I can live with him missing shots that he normally makes. What my biggest concern for the Lakers is their bench play and how much missing Andrew Bynum is hurting this team. At the half, the Lakers had zero points from their bench. Not one of the reserves scored until Shannon Brown got to the rim for a layup with just under three minutes left to play in the third quarter. That’s 33 minutes of no bench production, and you just can’t win games that way. Even worse is the fact that only Jordan Farmar’s jumper at the beginning of the fourth quarter was the Lakers only other points. Four points in 53 combined minutes off of the bench is mind boggling. I just don’t understand how that’s possible. Not only is Andrew Bynum going to help defend guys like Tim Duncan, but it’s going to give the Lakers a much needed extra body to come off of the bench.

What’s scary about the potential of this Lakers team is the fact that, as badly as they played, they still had an opportunity to win the game. With just under 8 minutes left to play, Pau Gasol hit a wide-open 15-footer to cut the Spurs lead to three points, seemingly taking the momentum away from the Spurs one possession at a time. However, the Spurs were able to do what the Lakers haven’t been able to do to opponents in what seems like months – throw that late fourth quarter haymaker to remove any doubt of who is coming out of the game with the win – and went on a 13-1 run over the next two plus minutes. Here’s a short running diary of what happened after Gasol’s 15-footer.

7:45 – Spurs run high S&R with Ginobili with Brown and Gasol defending. Gasol shows on the right side of the screen, Ginobili sets Brown up with the crossover, and Brown runs into a set Duncan, leaving the left side of the floor open for Ginobili to drive. The rotation is slow and Luke Walton (I’m glad to see him back on the floor) is forced to give Ginobili a hard foul to prevent the easy bucket. Ginobili knocks down both free throws. (76-71 Spurs)

7:23 – After Farmar misses a relatively open three-pointer, Ginobili comes down the court, looks to penetrate, when the lane is closed by a helping Odom, Ginobili finds Odom’s man, Antonio McDyess, wide open for a 20-footer. Time out Lakers. (78-71 Spurs)

6:42 – The Lakers come out of the timeout and turn the ball over when Ron Artest fumbles a pass from Gasol out of bounds. The Spurs come down on the other end, feed Duncan who gets a very good look, after backing down Gasol, that doesn’t fall. They keep the play alive by being aggressive on the offensive boards, the ball goes out of bounds off the Lakers. On the inbounds, it looks like the Spurs botched the play they were running, but Ginobili scrambled for the lose ball and flipped in an off-balance shot in the paint. (80-71 Spurs).

6:10 – The Lakers come down the floor, and from their set, Artest passes the ball on the left wing, Odom passes the ball to Gasol who is 15 feet away from the basket on the left side, who holds the ball for six seconds, not making a basketball move, then hoists up the jump shot over Duncan which goes long off of the back side of the rim. This is, ostensibly, the Lakers offense at its worst. Ginobili, who grabbed Gasol’s rebound, went down the floor at the other end and ran the high screen and roll with Duncan, this time with Artest guarding the ball instead of Brown. Duncan set the same exact screen that he set on the last S&R, but since Ginobili used his crossover to get both Brown and Gasol on the same side to open up the left side of the lane, Gasol fails to show on the right side of the screen, hoping to catch the cut back and Ginobili takes the screen as it is and puts in a floater over Odom and Gasol who is coming over to help from the top of the key. This is the Spurs offense at its best. (82-71 Spurs)

5:41 – The Lakers finally get some offense going  when Kobe and Gasol run a delayed P&R. Gasol sets the screen for Kobe, and waits for the double team to go to Kobe as he penetrates, which also gives Kobe time to operate without another big in the middle if the double doesn’t come. Kobe gets to the right elbow and picks up his dribble when he sees Duncan coming toward him to help, at that point, Gasol started cutting to the basket from the three-point line. Duncan loses track of Gasol and is sent to the line by McDyess. He makes one of two. At the other end, Ginobili brings the ball down, makes an entry pass to Duncan who finishes with a pretty up-and-under move on Gasol. They’re now on a 13-1 run and Ginobili has either scored or assisted on 11 of the 13 points – and if this were Chris Paul in New Orleans, that last entry pass to Duncan would have counted as an assist, too. And just like that, the lead is extended to 12 points. (84-72 Spurs)

What I will say is that it didn’t look like the Lakers were lacking effort. For much of this game, there was a playoff atmosphere, and the Lakers seemingly wanted to win this game, they just couldn’t put it together. They shot terribly from the field. Outside of Gasol (13 for 20), Fisher (three for four) and Odom (four for eight), no Laker was remotely close to shooting 50 percent. They shot 40 percent as a team and just under 24 percent from behind the arc (5 for 21). They didn’t turn the ball over too many times (11, which is under their season average) but they were outrebounded and went to the line fewer times.

The Lakers get another shot to put things together on Thursday night when they go to Denver to face a struggling Nuggets team. That’s going to be another huge, tough game against another playoff-bound team. Hopefully they can get things together in the three days they have off.

– Phillip

Phillip Barnett

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35 responses to Lakers/Spurs: Ginobili Ruined Easter

  1. Although this was a good wrap up, I feel it was a little sugar coated. Lets all be honest, the Lakers don’t look like a very good team right now. I’m not at all confident that they can get through the West let along win a title this season. Darius mentioned putting together a post about how Kobe’s contract affects us down the road and I’m really looking forward to it because I didn’t agree at all with giving Kobe the contract at this point in the season. WHY? Think about it…If we happen to win the championship this season, there’s no way Kobe would have left to go to another team. If we don’t win the championship, then it will have proven that we can’t win it with this team and now Kobe’s contract may have handicapped us for years to come.

    Say Kobe did opt out, this would have been the perfect season for that to happen with all the free agents to be. Who wouldn’t want to play in LA? Although I am the biggest Kobe Bryant fan, he is 31 years old and giving him this huge contract at this point in the season with us struggling didn’t make sense business wise for Jerry Buss. If we don’t win it, how can we improve our team now?

  2. Reposted from last thread:

    The Lakers had really poor rotations on high P&R for the entire game. Pau was playing really well on offense, but was making some questionable choices on defense.

    Kobe’s shot is off, but it was just on a little while ago. I’m not worried about his shot. The continued utter lack of a bench is the bigger concern.

    It was good to see Luke back out there. There were flashes of the little things he does, but he’s not back yet.

    Key play of the game: Lakers claw their way back to within 2 in the 4th with just over 8 minutes left.

    The Spurs come back to run their offense, move the ball around with a few probing drives and with the shot clock running down, Shannon Brown collapses into the paint, leaving his man – one Manu Ginobli – wide open at the top of the key, behind the 3 point line.

    2 point deficit goes to 5, Lakers never recover. You could see the wind go out of their sails on that play. As soon as Manu hit the shot, I looked at the other people in the room and told them they could change the channel because this game would be a double-digit Spurs lead by the 5 minute mark. It would be 11 points by the 6 minute mark…I was off by a minute.

    This loss comes at a good time though. It will refocus the Lakers for the Nuggets on Thursday. Expect another 1.5 – 2 full good quarters of play, which as this season has illustrated, is all the Lakers need to beat any opponent.

  3. Excuses – excuses – excuses!

    This team, playing like this, will not win any championships – period.

    Our bench is broken. The only good thing is that having Luke and Andrew back will mean we don’t have to play some of these guys. Which ones I have no idea, but Lamar is certainly needed in this group.

  4. Lakers need to go to Denver a few days early, practice in the altitude, get acclimated to the time zone, etc.
    it’s a back to back, but game 2 is Minnie, so shouldn’t be that tough.
    getting the first is critical though, so much focus on the Nuggs.

    speaking of Thugs, I thought it was getting a bit on the rough and tumble side today, the Jefferson tackle of Kobe on the fast break was borderline and it looked like Kobe took real offense at this, if you looked closely, Jeff also stepped on kobes foot on the drive at very high speeds, could have been a serious injury, lucky for us it wasn’t.
    But I felt Kobe was pissed and really wanting to beat this team and bet he said as much at halftime.

  5. Afraid to say it but there may be something really broken with Kobe. That finger may well have gotten much worse. Some of us wondered if he should have taken real time off when it happened. He appears to be guiding the ball on jumpers. Based on my numbers he is shooting 14% from 15 foot or more the last 2 games. He missed 15 of 16 aganist Utah and 8 in a row tonight,

    We can win without him shooting but he will not let that happen. If this continues he will shoot us out of the playoffs. He also is leading the league in turnovers the past 10 games.

    With a bad bench and bad Kobe shooting the only way we get out of the West is big nights from the bigs. Again i don’t think Kobe will let that happen.

    Phil is going to have to do some coaching with Kobe. That is if he wants to coach here next year.

  6. I think Kobe is having some serious concerns with his finger. When he signed his contract they asked him about the World Championships and he hinted that he would have to evaluate his finger at the end of the season before committing to play. He also mentioned surgery as an option. Kobe mentioning surgery to me seems as a lock for him to opt to have it this summer as he seems to realize something is seriously wrong with his finger. It’s too late for him to rest it though and he realizes he’s going to have to play with it in the playoffs though that seriously hampers the team. Kobe with a bum finger still is the best 3pt shooter, what does that say about the Lakers chances?

  7. Besides Bynum being out until who knows when, Kobe’s finger worries me somewhat, should not the finger have healed by now, it takes 6 weeks for a broken bone to heal, right? I do not want to be negative here though, like I am sure this thread will end up degenerating into, negative comments. I will just keep enjoying every Laker game left this year, that is all that I can do I guess, and hope we only lose 1 more game at the most for the 2nd best team in the NBA, record wise.

  8. Again… the Lakers will be fine when they get their starting Center back. All you have to do is see their numbers with and without Bynum this year like they showed during the telecast today.

  9. Do you really think they will be ok Aaron if Kobe continues to shoot 15% with jumpers?

    Also if LO continues to spend more time at nightclubs with Ron than at practice? Again last night.

    I f the bench continues to score 4 point per game?

    Are you sure Aaron?

  10. 9, never ask Aaron if he’s sure. He’s sure.

  11. when i see Aaron get that positive, I feel that something is terribly wrong with the team. but Bynum’s a big part of the team. and remember when the playoffs come starters will get 90% of the minutes.

  12. OK. As a 40 year Laker fan I am very confused and concerned about this team.

    That I am sure of.

    i really want another month of games to watch.

  13. Kobe is Kobe, I just hope he realizes that he can’t shoot out of his funk every game. There will be games where he’ll have to admit and realize that his shot is off and that the team is better off with him working as a decoy, even when single-covered.

  14. Of course not Mojo. My concern has to do with a finger that may have gotten worse.

    As for the bench they are not very good the second half of season.

    They went from top ten to the bottom in the league. Just means a 7-man rotation in playoffs,

  15. Disappointing and Disgusting!

  16. Kobe is a 46% shooter. With 16 shots, it comes to an average of 7.4 and a standard deviation of 2.0, so 11 out of 16 is less than two standard deviations away. With 24 shots, the average is 11.0 and the sd is 2.4, so 8 out of 24 is less than 2 sds away again. We should not think of 8 out of 24 as abysmal or 11 out of 16 as exceptionally good. What has me worried is things like the lack of lift on his jumpshot.

  17. Lakers have a bench? really?

  18. I’m not overly worried about Kobe. He’ll make the right adjustments when it counts- he virtually always does.

    It’s the bench that worries me most. We need Bynum back ASAP.

  19. 2. You wrote: “Key play of the game: Lakers claw their way back to within 2 in the 4th with just over 8 minutes left.

    The Spurs come back to run their offense, move the ball around with a few probing drives and with the shot clock running down, Shannon Brown collapses into the paint, leaving his man – one Manu Ginobli – wide open at the top of the key, behind the 3 point line.”
    ———————————————

    Actually, Shannon didn’t collapse into the paint. He turned his head to ball watch, wandered down toward the FT line without getting near anyone, lost Ginobili, and was completely taken by surprise when Jefferson was forced by a Gasol-Walton double team to pass out to Manu beyond the arc. Boom! Wide-open three-pointer. Maybe the single worst defensive play by any Laker all season. Here’s a link to the video breakdown:
    http://tinyurl.com/ydr4xvb

  20. This team is sleepwalking and nowhere near as good or hungry as last year.

    In my eyes the writing on the wall has clearly been spelling Doom all year long.

  21. For better or worse, the Lakers are little different from what they were at the beginning of the year–a more defensively oriented team with a stronger role for Andrew Bynum–with supporting players that helped win an NBA championship. On paper, the Lakers seemed capable of 70 wins–even though it was shown that most teams that win NBA championships win fewer games the next year.

    Critics have jumped on every player on the team–and the coaches–and Jerry Buss–and Mitch Kupchak–and they might be right from time to time. The competition may well be greater this season–especially from the East if the Lakers get that far.

    I still like this team–every player–and I’m glad Jerry Buss kept them together. They still have the winning potential we have hoped for all year–or they may go out in the first round.

    Isn’t that why we’ve followed the team all year?

  22. 20.

    Actually the worst defensive play of the year was the Miami game that Kobe won with the bank shot. With about a minute left to play, whoever was playing point for Miami set a pick from DWade at the top of the key on Kobe, and Fisher jumped to the opposite side of his man, essentially allowing one man to pick both him and Kobe and giving DWade and easy lane to take the lead.

    Also Artest forgetting completely where Lebron was on Christmas and letting him cut back door for a dunk that got shown 10,000 times for the next week on ESPN was worse.

    Not in any way relevant to the conversation, but I still have nightmares about those two plays.

  23. #20: Dude (funny, my website has me labeled as “Dood”), thanks for the link. I was going off of memory rather than looking up the video.

    Damn, I must have put on some rose-colored glasses for that.

    But I agree, that was one of the worst defensive plays I’ve seen from this team, and that’s saying something.

  24. About three months ago, I noted the contrast between how Popovich and Jackson have handled minutes. Numbers as of today:

    DUNCAN 31.8 MPG
    GINOBILI 28.6 MPG

    GASOL 37.1 MPG
    BRYANT 38.8 MPG

    Now, of course, the Lakers beat Spurs a couple of weeks ago, so this may mean nothing. But lookig at the 4th yesterday, it was obvious whose legs were fresher. This is something that may bear watching in the playoffs.

  25. The minutes are piling up for our heroes in purple and gold.

    They’ve been to The Finals back to back, with all the extra games that entails. And, Gasol played all (or practically all) last Summer long – with all the extra games THAT entails.

    Maybe they need a nice, refreshing first round playoff exit this year and then they can rest up for 2010-2011.

  26. I had the same injury as Kobe last September (pinky on right hand) and opted for surgery. My finger is still a problem, swollen in the joint, bent and the joint hurts to touch. It’s a tricky injury, six weeks rest would have done nothing in my view. I had it in a splint for over 3 months with no bending activities and probably should have given it another month or two.

    BTW, I didn’t see details on Shaq’s thumb surgery but I’d be amazed if he came back this season. Maybe the bone didn’t pull off when the tendon came off.

  27. First, I’d like to thank Phillip for putting up such a great recap.

    Second, this was a game that’s tough to swallow. Missing Bynum is hurting both the Lakers offense and defense. He’s a reliable third scoring option and that second big in the paint that can block, contest, and alter shots. Not to mention his ability to rebound on both ends of the court.

    Also, what’s happened to our bench is pure craziness. They were never world beaters (despite what the media was saying to start the season), but they’ve completely fallen off the map. I mean, there’ve been two games recently (including this one against the Spurs) where they didn’t even get on the scoreboard until late into the third quarter. So, I have to agree with the sentiment from the last thread – I don’t care how talented a team is at the top of the roster, if the bench can’t put up some points and defend on the other end, leads will vanish and deficits will expand. I don’t know how this will get “fixed” and I understand that getting Bynum back will (eventually) help, but thsi group needs a break through and some(one) they can hang their hat on. One guy that I think can really help this unit is Farmar, but I don’t know if his head is into it right now. This is the second straight season that Farmar has gone into a funk in the last quarter of the season and, moreso than even Brown, I hope he can break out of it soon.

  28. OK. As a 40 year Laker fan I am very confused and concerned about this team.

    _____

    I’m about the same age. I know you’re speaking figuratively, but the team has several bad players and the good players may be overworked and are starting to age a a little. Poor P/R D and poor 3P shooting are serious problems. I don’t see this team as being confusing at all.

    I don’t think Jackson has done a great job with this team this year. Part of the bench issues are on him–he does not seem to work well with young players (I consider Bynum as part of the bench in many respects). Also, I think Jackson needs/needed to try some different rotation combos.

    If and when Bynum comes back, I think I would conisder bringing him off the bench, and getting him on the floor with Walton and Farmar and w/o Gasol. Focus on flashes and lobs and let Bynum play as the #1 post option.

  29. That’s “consider.” Having trouble with the edit window.

  30. What you should be really worried about is how strong this team is going to be with Tony Parker at full strenth. Think about TP cutting and slicing through the Lakers in the playoffs along with his back-up George Hill coming in not missing a beat. Be worried Laker fan, be VERY worried!

  31. 25. robinred

    Greg Popovic has always been very liberal about the minutes of his starters, which is why some believe the Spurs have been able to win 4 titles under his tenure. Look at the minutes Duncan has played against some of the lesser teams this year.

    GSW- 14 mins
    LAC- 13 mins
    LAC- 19 mins
    MIN- 25 mins

    Duncan stays fresh and the reserves get more minutes against starters. Pops is notorious for this. However, this only works if the reserves can actually contribute against other teams’ starters, which the Lakers bench clearly cannot as of right now.

  32. I’ve seen every game this year, and probably the last few years, win or lose they have the same problems.

    1. they refuse to trap the pick and roll, so they get two quick fouls and proceed to not play any defense at all.

    2. Bynum and Gasol refuse to play defense if they aren’t getting touches

    3.Kobe only plays defense against the top players, which becomes a moot point because they run pick and rolls and….see above^^^^

    4.The triangle was great until the rule change, kobes best games come when they use pick and roll like the rest of the league, they triangle gets points, but no fouls, and since none of the other teams best players check kobe, they are never in foul trouble.

    5. during critial parts of the game, Gasol turns into white cloud or Charmin…he is very very SOFT not very very tough. he loses the ball when he is bumped, throws errant passes, and refuses to get contact.

    6. Lastly, Kobes’ finger is destroyed, he can’t dribble at all with it, he can’t really shoot with it and he can’t make adjustments, some days the jumper falls some days it doesn’t, but the turnovers are always there, when people smack at the ball they hit that finger and he’s done….but not done shooting.

    all that said, there is enough offensive talent in the starting lineup to win most games, and enough length to turn teams into jump shooters. If Kobe learns to pass after he misses his first few…we can still eek out a championship this year, but next year we have to get young quick players with at least one talent at a cheap price.

  33. @33

    There is truth in all that, but the baseball writer Bill james once said that bad teams (or in this case worried fans, like our Spurs’ friend Pablo tells us we need to be) tend to take out their irritations and anxieties on the team’s best players.

    One thing I’ve noticed: when the bench has a really bad game, or Kobe puts up an 8/24, people start sniping at Gasol for being “soft.”

  34. Ken, (9)
    1) Do you think Kobe will shoot 15%

    2) I will not talk about players personal lives

    3) The bench will score a lot more when Lamar Odom is on it

  35. Yes, we need our starting 280lb, 7 foot Center back in action for the Playoffs, that will put LO back as 6th man and the rotations will be back to normal. Good job Phillip on the recap, bye the way.