The Lakers had their hats handed to them by the Spurs, losing 112-91. After the game, Tony Parker said that he and his team were particularly motivated after being embarrassed in San Antonio last week and wanted to make up for it tonight. Well, mission accomplished Tony.
Tonight’s game really was an example of two things. First, is that outlier games happen. Last week the Lakers trounced the Spurs on all levels, nearly doubling their rebound count while nearly every major player on their roster played terribly. Some of what the Lakers did that night was repeatable – like their effort on D and their game plan on O – but the poor performances from Parker and Ginobili specifically likely weren’t to be duplicated. Tonight, Parker was as amazing as he was awful last week, scoring 29 points on an array of jumpers and open court forays to the rim created by sloppy Laker play. When you add his points to his 13 assists, you have a night that’s beyond even his own high standard of strong play. So, while Parker wasn’t going to stink up the joint again tonight, it’s doubtful he’ll be this amazing consistently against any opponent. (This isn’t to discount Parker, either. He really was great and deserves all the accolades he’s bound to receive for playing so well. I’m just saying if he could get 29 and 13 each night, he probably would. Tonight he was beyond special.)
Second, people often stress late game performances as the key to winning or as more important than other parts of the contest. But in reality, games can be lost at any point. In the 2nd quarter the Spurs went on an 18-0 run with the Lakers turning the ball over on 5 straight possessions at one point. That stretch effectively lost the game for the Lakers as a 2 point Laker lead was turned into a 16 point deficit in the blink of an eye. When you consider that the final difference in the game was 21 points, those 18 straight loom rather large. So while we often worry about late game performance (and, to be fair, there’s good reason for that), it’s also important to remember that it’s what a team does during the rest of the contest that makes those moments matter. Tonight, the Spurs dominated the Lakers in the 2nd quarter and never looked back.
Ultimately, this game is a tough loss for a variety of reasons. The Lakers are now tied in the loss column with the Clippers and will be in a dog fight for the final week trying to hold on to their #3 seed. The built up confidence from winning without Kobe has also been dented as this wasn’t just a loss but a shellacking. But, ultimately, the Lakers still control their own destiny and will just need to get back on track. Luckily, this loss won’t linger for too long as they face the Warriors tomorrow night. Sometimes it’s better to just tip your cap to the other team and move on, and that’s what the Lakers get to do after this one.