Lakers Lose Again, Trail 0-3 to the Spurs

Darius Soriano —  April 26, 2013

I can’t say I’m surprised by the result — especially since I wrote as much in the game preview — but I can say I’m a bit surprised by some of the details of the outcome. The Spurs did what they were supposed to do in this game, so give them credit. They blew out a team who’s injured and lacking cohesion. They didn’t have letdown, didn’t come in unprepared. They put their foot on the Lakers’ neck and took the 3-0 lead they were supposed to grab considering the circumstances.

Where the surprise comes in is that it actually wasn’t the Lakers’ guards who struggled in this one. Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock started this game in place of Nash and Blake, and did quite well for themselves. Morris had the best offensive night of his career, scoring 20 points on 9-15 shooting while also handing out 6 assists. He showed relatively good poise and flashed some good playmaking instincts. Goudelock scored 24 points on 8-17 shooting, showing off a more refined version of the offensive game he flashed last season. He hit an array of runners, pull up jumpers, and spot up threes to remind us that if there’s one thing he can do is score the ball.

Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol also played pretty well, all things considered. Dwight scored a team high 25 points on 9-16 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds. He worked through physical play all night, getting hit and wrapped up on nearly every paint touch. And while he could have showed a bit more composure, I don’t blame him for being visibly frustrated by how often he took a hard shot from one of the Spurs. As for Pau, he recorded his first ever playoff triple-double by scoring 11 points (on 5-10 shooting) while grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing 10 assists (both team highs). While I would have liked to see Pau get up more shots, he was fantastic at picking out teammates for makable shots and being patient in taking what the defense was giving him.

Besides those four Lakers, however, no one else did much of anything. And that, of course, is a problem. If the team was ever going to hang tough against a team as good as the Spurs, they needed to have everyone raise their level of play. Instead, Ron (who, to be fair, just had his knee drained and was clearly not moving well) went scoreless in 17 minutes, while Jamison (2-5) and Clark (2-9) combined for 9 points on 14 shots in a combined 50 minutes of action. Add in Duhon’s poor display (0-1, zero points, no assists in 25 minutes) and the Lakers simply didn’t have enough in this game.

So, ultimately, this was a pretty frustrating night even though what came about wasn’t totally unexpected. It was certainly disappointing to see the defense struggle the way that they did, but the Spurs were a top offense all year for a reason. They know how to execute and get the shots they want. Plus, when Tim Duncan is hitting his jumper all night, it’s going to be tough to hold them down in any way considering that long two is the one shot a defense should feel comfortable surrendering on most possessions. But with that shot going in, the Lakers had no answers for the Spurs’ offense and, so, the rout ensued.

Game four is on Sunday and we’ll see how the Lakers respond. I don’t think we’ll see them lay down, but another bad loss wouldn’t be unexpected. At this point it’s clear that the Lakers don’t have enough to compete for a full 48 minutes. And while that’s upsetting, it’s also the reality of the situation.

Darius Soriano

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34 responses to Lakers Lose Again, Trail 0-3 to the Spurs

  1. Darius, you summed up pretty well how I felt about the game. I did like the effort, especially early in the game, but we couldn’t get a stop defensively, even if we competed all night. For all of the uninjured players, though, I have to think that there is a huge mental drain on them simply from seeing kobe, blake and and meeks go down in the span of a couple weeks, not to mention nash reaggravating his injury. While they’re professionals and are paid to play basketball, one has to wonder if somewhere in the back of their mind, they aren’t wondering who’s the next player to get injured. To be honest, the way injuries have hit the Lakers recently, I half expected either morris or goudelock to go down with an injury in this game, which fortunately didn’t happen. Hope we come to play for Game 4, but I’m just going to hope against logic that we’ll pull out a victory.

  2. I know this is not unfamiliar territory for me, but…

    With Pau getting his first playoff triple-double and our support players – except the two very junior guards – pretty much coming up empty, it would seem pretty cruel to actually level my criticism at Pau. Of course, that is exactly what I am going to do.

    Offensively Pau had a pretty complete game, but defensively he just couldn’t hold up his end of the bargain. This has been more true over the last few years than most of us would like to admit – especially in playoff basketball.
    – When he plays center the opposition goes around him like a road cone.
    – He has a hard time blocking shots when he is the primary defender and not the help defender – not unusual, but frustrating for a player many ‘talking heads’ claim is the most skilled big man in the game.
    – Other players continually rip the ball out of his hands, particularly during rebounding.
    – He shouldn’t be playing center when the opponent big has any real junk-in-the-trunk, because he just gets pushed around – even if the other player is 6’7″.
    – It is when Pau replaces Dwight that the opponents immediately start driving the lane and challenging ‘our bigs’. This gets them in a rhythm they frequently remain in the remainder of the game.

    Our problem next year will probably still be at the defensive end and we need to get more help than just getting a healthy Jordan Hill back. For this reason I feel we need to move Pau over the summer. He has shown enough offense to be of value, especially with a $19M expiring contract. That is a change we need to make, regardless what else we do. Even if Dwight leaves, we won’t be ahead retaining Pau to play starting center next year, IMO.

  3. I’ve been a runner for over half of my life. My pops ran every freakin day since the last Apollo mission, and still does at least 6 miles every afternoon. My mom doesn’t do races, but she competes in recreational sports. There would be good days, there would be bad days — and on rare occasions, a whole week could feel like something was off.

    But no matter the outcome of a time, a score, etc…they taught me to push myself to the very end. All out on the pavement or trail. It hurt, but I would run that last mile or two until it was over. Perhaps I could have prepared a little better, drank more water, slept an extra hour…but in that present moment, you just decide to yourself, “no regrets” and go out to compete your heart out.

    As frustrating and worn-down of a season this has been for the Lakers, I hope they give whatever they have left on Sunday. Down 10 or 40 or 60, whatever. Just show effort, fight and heart to the every end. We could nitpick and criticize whoever on this squad, but I think there’s been more than enough of the same kind of stuff this season. Just go out and battle to the end.

  4. The officials were not the reason the Lakers lost tonight, to say the obvious. I generally hate to talk about the refs. But I was pretty surprised at the off-night they had. Just no consistency from end to end. Dwight and Pau generally were clobbered, while the refs bought some Spurs flopping on the other end. Not a huge part of the game, but I do think one of the referee crew’s most important jobs is to establish consistent limits on what they’ll allow night to night, and even quarter to quarter. Wasn’t much consistency in this one.

    A long way of saying I enjoyed the “Ref-you-suck” Staples chant that had particular viciousness tonight. It was well-deserved, Ed Malloy.

  5. I had originally thought the defense would be a little better with the young legs out there but I should have known better. It’s much easier to play offense when you haven’t played together then defense. As the broadcasters kept pointing out, there were several combinations of players out there who had never been on the floor together. Its extremely hard to have your rotations down without familiarity.

    I also had a problem with how both Pau and Dwight laid off Duncan. I understand that you want him to take those long jumpers but he was obviously feeling it and they at some point should have tightened up on him.

    I admire how Metta has tried to play through the knee injury but he just can’t move. Hopefully we will start Clark Sunday. For whatever the reason he just seems to play better when he starts.

  6. Agreed Michael

    Zero points and zero rebounds in 17 minutes is as bad as it can get. Not that it mattered but Metta really needs to shut it down.

  7. From the previous thread.
    @Ken
    I’m thinking that MWP will be gone after this year via amnesty. Pau will get traded to someone for some version of a crap platter. Kobe will come back around Xmas. Nash will hopefully be healthy. Dwight will probably resign hopefully at full health…. MDA will have a team that is “more” suited to his favored style of play, but probably further away from a chance at a title.

    Kobe and Nash will be a year older and more fragile than ever. Will Kobe even be 80% of what he was before? Oh and, for the record, if PJ would have been coaching this year with all the injuries that have befallen the Lakers, then the result would have been the same.

  8. All sounds reasonable. Not sure if MD is back but the rest sounds right. It’s funny but as upset I get during the season when reality finally smacks me in the face I realize a simple truth. It’s just a game. It’s just a business. Nothing I say or do can change the results. And the wins and losses don’t make us fans richer, smarter, healthier or for that matter change our direction in life.

    We are just what Mike D called Kobe, fans and as we all know that is just short for fanatics. Have a good off season all and I hope all on his site are healthy and back next year for another year of fanaticism.

    Thanks
    Ken

  9. It’s depressing–but it is what it is.

    If it were me, I would have played “young” and “big” and I wouldn’t have been afraid to run. I would have done my best to forgt about the two Steve’s, Jody, and the other guy. I would have played MWP, Duhon, and Antawn for limited minutes–and I would have played Sacre. I would have played symbolically toward the future. Getting blown out in that way could have been the ashes from which rebirth could come.

    As it was, we pretended to match and compete when matching and direct competition was impossible. We looked rather foolish in the process.

    It is not time to look to the future, but it will not be nearly as simple as some here think it will be.
    Kobe as we knew him will not be back next year, and it is possible that the Lakers management as we knew them this year may not be back either. Some sort of drama is probably happening already, and the soap opera that is the Lakers will surely continue uninterrupted.

    We could simply recycle this year’s experiment one more year–but I doubt it.

  10. I miss Kobe :(

  11. Warren Wee Lim April 27, 2013 at 4:07 am

    Craig W. my sentiments echoed in your thoughts. Pau Gasol – for whatever he is not, has proven to have real value to a team that will utilize him properly. We’ve pretty much been forced to, and Kobe going down has proven Pau’s contributions. Its no longer as a superstar but as a very good and versatile veteran center who might be a better passer than Vlade Divac. His contract situation is also ideal – you don’t have to pay him beyond next year if you don’t want to. In case you do, you can negotiate his contract. I post it as a selling point for other teams.

    I will be exploring ideal matchups for him via trade. That would be Mitch and Jim’s job this offseason and I have always felt “in my own little way” its mine to do.

    I am happy that Pau has found his groove after resting for 6 weeks. Early playoff exit + no international ball this summer and he would come out very good for next season.

    For the other teams, start calling Mitch… or you can call me, I’ll do the prelim talk, I’ll patch you through Mitch when its closer.

  12. Answering Shaun from last thread:

    I was there. No Kobe sightings. Two ‘we want Phil’ chants, one very small and one medium, neither with the ardor of the shaq jersey game. For the record, I think chanting that given the lakers injury situation is inane.

    However, there were several loudish but good-spirited ‘MWP’ chants for GLock, who was presented with his trophy before the game.

    A strange crowd– weird hybrid of playoffs and a rainy Monday night versus the raptors. Most regulars around me said they will NOT go on Sunday, too painful and they’ve already made peace with burying the dead. Anyone interested in saying goodbye will certainly find cheap tix on Lakers ticket exchange or other places.

  13. It’s just so hard to play defense when guys don’t play together. Poor rotations, late help, missed assignments. We’ve seen it all year, as the Lakers have never been able to field a consistent lineup. It gets interpreted as lack of effort, but it is more often just not understanding where to be.

  14. I liked the effort last night. Never expected it to be close. The spurs are so disciplined and the Lakers were winging it.

    I do wonder why Goudelok wasn’t on the roster all year. Someone who can spell Kobe here and there. Spread the floor. Knock down 3s. Young. Quick.

  15. Yea, I also wondered why Goudelock was cut and Morris was not given at least 5 minutes per game to keep him game ready.

  16. Jamison said it after the game….We made no adjustments on defense…not after the last game…not after a period…not after half….I know we were short handed but still the coach needs to give a better effort…maybe a zone defense??? Plus you needed to give Jamison more burn….

  17. The way I remember it, Goudelock was awful in the summer league and preseason games

  18. The clear difference between a great coach and a bad coach. Faced with the same situation ( playoff game, and your star player gets 4th foul early in 3rd quarter with you down by 10 points).

    Mark Jackson left Curry in the game, knowing that was the only way to come back. Dantoni took Howard out the rest of the quarter and effectively gave away any chance to win the game.

    Please Lakers bring back Phil Jackson. If he does not want to coach then get another championship level coach.

  19. Revisionist history. After a good start to his rookie year, Goudelock was awful for a long period of time. Too long to call it just a slump. Looked like a scrub even in Summer League. The CDR cut didn’t seem as defensible, but not many people were clamoring to keep Goudelock at the time, and for good reason. When his J and floater fail him, there’s almost nothing else on the court he’s above average at.

  20. Players under contract next year.

    Kobe Bryant
    Pau Gasol
    Metta World Peace *Player Option
    Steve Nash
    Jordan Hill
    Steve Blake
    Jodie Meeks *Team Option

    With the new cba tax coming next year I find it hard to believe the Lakers will let their amnesty go to waste. Metta has lost value on this team with D’Antoni as the coach and as he’s gotten older. He’s a prime candidate for the amnesty. (edited for trade speculation) Releasing Meeks and replacing him with Goudelock would be something as a fan I would look forward too. Meeks stunk late last season in Philly and did the same here. Reminiscent of Matt Barnes he should be let go. Morris and Goudelock have some experience they probably will be back based on the tax. Rather go young and develop than go old and stink. That route has gotten the Lakers nowhere the last 2 years. I think D’Antoni will be back. Three coaches in 3 years isn’t like the Lakers and the team needs some stability. Ride out the rough patch with D”Antoni get a defensive specialist coach, maybe Lawrence Frank and get specialists specifically shooters to go with the system.

    16 shots 15 fta for 25 points for Dwight. He was hacked all night and in foul trouble early still found a way to contribute. The 25 pts 11 reb 2 blks should be a benchmark for him. 31 point blowout or not getting those numbers should be a given for Dwight.

  21. KenOak, if PJ were coaching this season, we wouldn’t have had as many injuries. MDA’s “system” combined with age are a toxic cocktail that leads to injury.

  22. The chickens have come home to roost for these Lakers. They went with a short rotation of older players and suffered one injury after another. Then, when they were forced to play the bench players, they were not ready and for some reason seem to have never participated in practice. Regular season burn for the scrubs may have saved some of the veteran’s from getting injured and also given the backups a chance to learn the defensive sets.

  23. I understand that some of you were upset at the lack of calls when Dwight had the ball. Even as a spurs fan, I thought that the refs could have called several more. Here is the question, though. Do you think that sending Dwight to the free throw line more is a good thing? Would that have resulted in more or less points? Until he shoots 60% from the line, you want him shooting his hook from 6 feet, dunking or passing out to an open shooter.

  24. Paul and Baylor fan-
    I totally agree with the long minutes hurting older players and, sure, most of that is on the coach. However, Dwight was already hurting coming into the year and had to play himself into shape and Nash was hurt almost immediately. So, this team never had it’s full complement of players on the floor for any significant amount of minutes. Not to mention that Gasol was already laboring after playing this summer. So, if we’re being honest, the only injury that we could possibly put on MDA is Kobe’s. Kobe has to be at fault there as well because he seemed to be refusing to come out. Would Phil have sat him down for rest? Yeah, I have to believe that he would…

    You can’t put it all on MDA. Not logically anyway. Having said that, I still do not believe that he is the right coach for this team if they’re keeping DH12. That’s just purely my opinion based on what I see and hear from Howard. He wants an offense that features him in the post and MDA doesn’t have much use for post play.

  25. Jim buss fan – not! April 27, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Doc brings up a good point. DH’s limitations were exposed as he recovered. Give credit to DH for gutting it out for the first 3 mos, but he’s got to develop and at least hit 55 % of his ft. And the lakers need to find someone to help him because that is not a skill set of the current staff. Seriously doubt you will get equal value for pau at this point in a trade. I’d only consider it if you know for sure Kobe not back unt jan. it makes more sense to find a coach who understands bigs if Kobe comes back than waste another year with mda

  26. “Rather go young and develop than go old and stink.”
    —–

    I agree with this 100%. Watching the other series in the West there is youth and athleticism on display all over the place. The Lakers need to bite the bullet and start anew. There is no room in this current NBA for old, slow teams. Experience is only good if its attached to some sort of athleticism. This is especially true on the wings.

  27. I see two centers that I might like to have rather than this current incarnation of Dwight Howard. Noah and Lopez both are playing at a higher level than Howard is at the moment. Noah’s defense actually seems to be overrated too.

  28. This Nate Robinson guy would have been a nice pickup. Wow!
    Check that last comment.

    **Noah’s defense actually seems to be underrated…***

  29. Doc:

    No, we don’t want Howard shooting more FT’s… but that’s not the issue with the lack of calls against his defenders. Those fouls would lead to earlier foul trouble, earlier penalty FT’s for the spurs, decrease the flow (and pace of the game) that favors the Lakers… So, no, I wouldn’t want Howard shooting more free throws, but, I do want Duncan, Splitter, Blair, etc in foul trouble, and OTHER Lakers shooting FT’s when the Spurs have reached their team foul limit and are in the penalty…

  30. Warren Wee Lim April 27, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Thats why Ive been calling for Pau to br traded for 2-3 pieces that would address: youth, athleticism, perimeter d, fastbreak pts and transition D.

    Jordan Farmar anyone?

  31. Pau gets a pass…triple double that doesn’t mean anything. Lakers needed points. Power forward was needed, not a point forward. Shaun, agree about the officiating…very poor to say the least. Dwight got hosed by those three “refs”.

  32. Regarding the coach, it’s going to come down to a few things. One, Dwight will have a say. Two, Kobe will have a say. Three, whoever buys AEG’s part of the Lakers’ stock may also have a say. If I controlled all elements of the situation, I would want either of the Van Gundy brothers first. This is probably an unpopular opinion, as Phil seems to be the choice being chanted in Staples and on most pro-Lakers sites. I think Phil lost the team in his last year. The problems Gasol has had, the team-wide problems we saw with effort and defense, they started with Phil here. I know the team has had enormous turnover since Phil left. Players who tuned him out in the past might be more open to his coaching now. He has had the most success of any NBA coach in history. He knows how to handle the media. He is a very interesting person etc… but there is one more issue with Phil. The system he runs is not only hard to learn, it is hard to unlearn. The players you wind up with when his tenure is over, have a tendency to stay fit into the system… especially the point guards. The NBA tree is ripe with NBA point guards. Why neglect that position? Phil, were he to take this job, would not be on the job long. Formulating a team around his system could take time, and keeping Pau would likely be a part of transitioning into it. So, the mistake of bringing in Phil and implementing a system that only one coach has run effectively, would likely be compounded by the additional error of keeping Pau when his trade value is the highest it’s been since he effectively brought CP3 here.

    I think the smartest thing the Lakers could do is build around Dwight, hope Kobe comes back as a high level complementary player, and that Pau can fetch the team some young, long, active players who can shoot at the 2/3 position. The Lakers need to be able to knock down shots, create a little from the perimeter, and to defend from there. They need a coach who will be around a while for a retooling and who can adapt to the players at hand. They need that same coach to leave behind players who are not bound to a system for them to succeed. If the Lakers are lucky, one of those players who come in a Pau trade can develop into a star or better. I think age and depth were the biggest obstacle for the team this year. Coaching, while not what I think it should have been, was further down the list. Yet, with all the rest that needs work- Kobe’s achilles, Nash’s back, Dwight’s contract, the perimeter play in general- I think the team will be bringing in a new coach. A Van Gundy would be a great fix to at least one problem with the team.

  33. P.Ami…very interesting post. AGree about Phil. It seems he wants a FO position and probably is done coaching since the trips are murder on his broken down body/knees.I think he was disinterested in his final year and I didn’t see the intensity and adjustments of his best years. No reason to bring him back because it would be a short tenure as HC in any case. I hope we dump D’Antoni, but he may hold on for another year which is OK with me since I don’t see next year as being even a playoff level campaign. Play out the string with him.
    I am not a huge DH fan but he IS the key to a quicker turnaround to contending status. Expiring contracts..one of the few good things going for us in a year’s time. But we’d all pay the same price, gladly..again for 3 trips to the Finals. Or at least, I think most of us would but so many Lakers fans are freaking out, it’s hard to tell..hee hee.
    I would love the next Lakers squad to be known for air tight defense. If you have an organization that values D, you will win games you shouldn’t and also make the playoffs in years you really shouldn’t. Thats the one thing I really hated about this year is the Lakers often played shabby or non existent D on a regular basis. Thats a function of coaching and the age of the team. We aren’t likley to see ShowTime talent again any time soon, so I believe we shoudl be concentrating on stopping other teams from scoring. DH, when healthy, is the best in the business at his position. Build around that.
    YOuth will be served. I too, like another poster in this thread, have been watching a ton of non Laker games this year and the amount and quality of the young legs booting up and down the court is amazing. We have to get some of those youthful guys on our squad. Boston and LA played with aging lineups and lost big time this year. You could say it was mostly injuries that sunk LA but I don’t think you can realistically say they were title contenders. Boston is currently down 3-1 and will probably bow out in 5.
    BEtter days ahead? Of course, the Lakers will always strive for excellence. Just a down time while we reload.