Lakers/Spurs: Nothing Comes Easy

Darius Soriano —  April 12, 2011

The five game skid is no more.

The Lakers brought home a 102-93 win and with it took one step closer to locking up the #2 seed in the playoffs. The Spurs were intentionally short handed with Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili all in street clothes but they proved a game opponent, hustling all over the court and hitting timely three pointers to stay in the game. The Lakers just had a bit too much down the stretch and were able to pull out the win, however. And while it wasn’t pretty, it was enough for this night.

What’s of bigger concern than any result in this game though, is the health of Andrew Bynum. A day that started with news about Steve Blake’s chicken pox diagnosis and Matt Barnes’ still troubled knee turned into a night of absolute worry about LA’s starting Center’s health. In the 2nd quarter Bynum was running back on defense, stepped on DeJuan Blair’s foot, slipped and hyperextended his knee. He instantly grabbed his knee and sat with his head buried in his massive arms and all of us Laker faithful held our collective breath. Bynum ultimately got up and left the floor under his own power but did not return to the game. After reports came out that he’d get an MRI tomorrow and would not travel or play in the Sacramento game, we all sat on pins and needles with championship hopes quickly turning into doubts for many.

After the game however, things may be looking up. Phil Jackson revealed that Bynum says he’s feeling better and that while the pain was severe at first, it has mostly subsided. Bynum states that he’ll be ready for the playoffs, though Phil was still cautious in stating that there could be a bone bruise and that missing a couple of games is still possible. Either way, it’s great news that he’s optimistic and that he left the arena walking without a limp.

As for the action on the court, it was a mostly frustrating viewing experience. The Lakers weren’t engaged in the action for long stretches and when they finally did start to pay attention to detail and truly try to put the Spurs away, the ability to do so wasn’t easily summoned. The Lakers looked to be running in sand and the Spurs played free and loose, making shots to stay within striking distance. As the game wore on, the Lakers were visibly frustrated with Kobe earning a technical foul after committing an offensive foul and the rest of his mates sported looks of stress for most of the night. It wasn’t until a late push in the latter part of the 4th quarter that the team seemed to breath a sigh of relief, and that was only after some of their jumpers started to fall and the Spurs went cold.

But, the Lakers did work through their malaise and for that I do give them credit. Lamar Odom had a big second half, scoring 21 of his 23 points in the final 24 minutes. He had a 12 big points in the final frame and used aggressive drives to the rim to earn a couple of “and 1″ lay ins that were key baskets down the stretch. I also must give Gasol is due for his strong night. Early on he didn’t get many touches but he found ways to make an impact even without the ball. When he finally did get entry passes, he didn’t waste the possessions making 7 of his 12 field goals for 17 points while also pulling down 17 rebounds in Bynum’s absence. As for Kobe, it wasn’t his most efficient shooting night (8-21 from the field, 2-6 from three point land) but he did make all 9 of his FT’s and scored a game high 27 points while grabbing 6 boards and handing out 4 assists. All thee of these guys came up big down the stretch in various ways and clinched the win in a game the team really needed.

And in the end – with Bynum’s MRI still sitting in the back of my mind – this is what matters tonight. The Lakers needed to get a  W and they did. The Spurs didn’t play their best guys but they still fought hard and made this a game that really could have gone either way down the stretch. The Lakers then tightened up their D, got aggressive going to the basket, and took a game they really need to win. Hopefully by this time tomorrow, I’ll be able to say the same thing about the Kings game and have some positive MRI results to go along with it.

Darius Soriano

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17 responses to Lakers/Spurs: Nothing Comes Easy

  1. Well they won. That’s about all I can say about tonight’s game. The Lakers just look mentally and physically exhausted. It’s been a long four years with the three Finals runs and two rings won. This year has been a grind, as expected. Plus, what was this the 8th game in 13 nights or something crazy like that? The guys just need some time recuperate and get their legs back and their minds rested and right. Assuming Kid Bynumite is OK, I’m still liking our chances of doing the Charlie Sheen and “Winning!”

  2. FB&G is just a great source of information. I missed seeing the game and did not record it (I was at an Angels baseball game), but was able to catch up on all or most of the action here, through the comments and posts. Bynum, what can we say, but it sounds like all will be OK, I guess. This is going to be a tough Playoff year for the Lakers, hopefully the seedings will fall in our favor, of least resistance to the Finals. I am and will remain optimistic about the team, and their destination this year of another NBA Championship.

    This isn’t good or bad. It’s just the way of things. Nothing stays the same.

  3. “As for Kobe, it wasn’t his most efficient shooting night”

    this phrase could have been used to describe any one of kobe’s games the last month or so. some ugly efficiency from him since the all star break.

  4. Well, I couldn’t stand to see the second half so I went to see Your Highness. Laughed my head off. Then I come back to FB&G and read that Drew left the arena walking without a limp, and the team managed to defeat the mighty Quinn and his teammates. A win against the BallSACs would clinch the #2 seed. Sure wish NOLA hadn’t lost at home vs Utah the other day, but there’s still a chance the Clippers can do us a solid and beat Memphis, giving NOLA the #7 seed no matter what.

  5. Hopefully Bynum shocked his knee, felt that scary moment of hyper-extension, and will be just fine after the MRI.

    But, can we stop talking about him as fragile? He is not fragile. He is enormous. The price of all that length and mass is an increase in all the nasty things that happen to bodies in motion. More momentum, more inertia, higher levels of concussive and percussive force applied to his body in motion.

    It is not fragility at all when big men get hurt (inevitably). It is simple physics.

  6. Anyway it goes, the Lakers must beat the Queens and I see them being motivated beyond any point all year. To make matters worse, we will be short three key players. Damn coasting!!!

  7. Oh man, what a scary night for both the Lakers and the Bulls. Bulls also had injuries to both Brewer and Noah… but Noah came back in the game.

    This kind of scare might be a Memento Mori for these sleepwalking Lakers:

    Someone will get injured, someday you will retire, something will go wrong… and some day you will die!

    So hey come on guys, don’t look so gloomy, pick yourself up and enjoy these playoffs. Kobe, Odom, Pau play your hearts out and fight for what ever little chance there might be that this spring will be capped of with a parade and a ring.

    …and Bynum might even join in on that run! Maybe even at full strength.

  8. I’m just hoping that they will win vs the Kings. They might face the Hornets in the first round, so it will be easy instead of the Trail Blazers.

  9. Memphis sat Randolph and Tony Allen last night, it’ll be interesting to see whether they’ll really go for a W against the Clippers.

    Dallas vs New Orleans should be in it’s finishing stages when our Sacramento game and LAC-MEM starts. Let’s say New Orleans loses, Memphis would then have the chance to pick their first-round opponent. I’d rather the Lakers would play New Orleans, but maybe Memphis likes their match-ups against us, especially with a possibly not 100% healthy Bynum.

    Also, New York at Boston for a preview of the first round match-up. Although both coaches might go to their back-ups rather than risking anything in that last game.

  10. I didn’t like the look of that hyperextension… Truth be told, I’m afraid it won’t be a “rest a couple of games” injury… If we play NO, I say don’t even risk further injury to Bynum. We only need him for 3 playoff series, not 4.

  11. @4 apparently the griz are tanking/ resting starters so we might be in luck

  12. Hmmm. I think the whole team was out of whack last night. Bad shot selections all over the place…outside of Lamar showing up big in the second half. I really believe that they will get it together in the playoffs. At this point I chose not to place blame on one person more than the other…the whole team needs to get out of whatever slump they are in…Shannon’s shooting, Artest lack of offense, etc. and get it together!

  13. Oh also praying that Bynum is fine! We need him

  14. its absolutely crucial that the lakers win tonight and secure the 2 seed. it appears Memphis is tanking to play the spurs in first round. the lakers could beat NO in 5 even without bynum and give him some time to rest. he could then play in 2nd round although I am a bit skeptical given Bynums history as a slow healer.

  15. 14. Paul

    I dont think that Bynum is a slow healer, he is in the early stages of his career. Why risk your career trying to play on a bum wheel, at his size, to win regular season games. His window is not closing in the next couple of years, he will be in his prime at the age of 27, 28, 29. The thought process is not to push the issue of returning during the regular seaon, allowing time for an injury to truly heal.

    Big Drew should get the benefit of the doubt from last years playoffs that he will give it his all whether at 100% or 70% in the playoffs. The regular season ends tonight and so will all the excuses. I have faith that LA will pull it together and get that ring.

  16. If we lose tonight ar we confirmed at the #3 seed?

  17. #16. For the Lakers to be the #3 seed, they have to lose and the Mavs have to win. If both teams lose (or win) the Lakers get the 2 seed. At least that’s what I’ve read.