Records: Lakers 36-22 (3rd in the West), Spurs 40-15 (2nd in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 105.9 (11th in the NBA), Spurs 109.6 (2nd in the NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 103.8 (13th in the NBA), Spurs 103.5 (12th in the NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Ramon Sessions, Devin Ebanks, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Spurs: Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw
Injuries: Lakers: Kobe Bryant (out); Spurs: none
The Lakers Coming in: Where to begin? Kobe is injured and will miss his 3rd straight game. The Lakers defense is trending down. Mike Brown has pulled Devin Ebanks from the depths of the bench to play in Kobe’s stead while Andrew Goudelock continues to not see any minutes. Andrew Bynum’s FG% has suffered in recent games as he struggles to deal with the varied looks defenses are sending at him. Meanwhile Pau Gasol seems to be finding his stride as the season winds down. Metta Ron-Ron is playing well and Steve Blake has started to find some aggression on offense. As a team, the Lakers can look very good for stretches (as they did in closing out the Hornets) or very bad for stretches (as they did in getting down by nearly double digits to the Hornets).
All of that was a long way of saying if you can tell me what to expect from the Lakers on from game to game – hell, from minute to minute in a game – you’re a better prognosticator than I. This team is consistently inconsistent in nearly everything they do and while that can be frustrating, it also makes every game interesting (for better or for worse). I just try to enjoy the ride the best I can, especially in a season that’s offered as many ups and downs as this one has.
The Spurs Coming in: Someone forgot to tell the Spurs they weren’t supposed to be this good. After earning a top seed in last year’s playoffs, the Spurs promptly lost in the 1st round to the upstart Grizzlies. This should have served as a blow to their confidence and their approach. Then, at the beginning of this year, Manu Ginobili broke his hand and was out for 6 weeks. This should have crippled their wing production as they were forced to rely on Danny Green (cast off from the lowly Cavs), Gary Neal, and rookie Kawhi Leonard (who was acquired via trade for the steady George Hill). When you add in Duncan continuing to age, roster changes that include a starter leaving and Boris Diaw arriving, and the turbulence of this condensed campaign, common thought would have the Spurs struggling to keep float in an ever competitive Western Conference.
Instead, they’re in 2nd place and only a game out of 1st. Instead, when everyone was writing their eulogy, they decided they’d bust through their plywood casket and tunnel back above ground like Beatrix Kiddo.
Credit Popovich’s steady hand and brilliant management of players minutes, roles, and egos. Credit Tony Parker, who once again is showing he’s one of the more impactful PG’s in a league full of difference makers at that spot. Credit Tim Duncan’s ability to fend off father time like he would a post defender for one more season. And credit all those role players who have stepped up and played well all season.
Before their most recent game (a loss to the Jazz where Popovich told Timmy, Manu, and Parker to stay at home) the Spurs had won 11 in a row. That was the 2nd time they’d done that this season.
Someone forgot to tell the Spurs they weren’t supposed to be this good.
Spurs Blogs: 48 Minutes of Hell is a fantastic site. Check them out. Also give a visit to Pounding the Rock.
Keys to game: Because this the first of three match ups against this team, I’m going bullet style with things I’ll be looking at tonight…
- The Spurs take the 7th most threes per game, make the 2nd most, and shoot the 2nd best percentage from deep. Their roster is littered with players who can knock down the three ball and they play every position (Parker, Neal, Green, Ginobili, Jackson, Bonner, Diaw). Long story short, the Lakers must defend the three point line well tonight, especially the corner three. Rotations must be crisp and on time. Closeouts should force their shooters to put the ball on the ground and then funnel them to Bynum and Pau who must also rotate well to challenge mid-range jumpers and shots at the rim.
- The Spurs are a P&R dominant team and use this action to set up a lot of their half court baskets. Parker is the primary handler in this set and he’s capable of turning the corner quickly to get into the paint and shoot his floater or get all the way to the rim and finish against size. The Lakers must hedge out to deny his driving lanes but must also be aware of his ability to split the hedge and burst into the paint quickly. This means proper angles must be taken to avoid giving him the corner or the split (I never said it would be easy). Rotations behind the initial hedge must be sharp. Parker (and Ginobili) are good passers out of this action and they love to suck in the D and then kick to the corners to open shooters.
- Speaking of shooters, many of them worry me but none more so than Bonner. A Laker big (likely McRoberts or Gasol) will be on Bonner most of the night and that defender will have to balance helping in the paint and sticking to him as he floats around the arc. If the Lakers get sucked into the paint too easily, Bonner will be able to fire uncontested threes at his leisure and those are shots he will knock down.
- Offensively, Bynum will need to rediscover his efficiency. He’s struggled making shots he normally does and tonight’s the night to correct that. I hope to see quick power moves after he works for deep position early in the shot clock. If he runs the floor well, he can battle Duncan and Splitter for real estate on the block and then use his size, strength, and length to get good shots.
- Bynum will also see double teams tonight and he must work out of them quickly. If he makes the easy pass it will lead to re-posts and/or good ball movement that set up his teammates for good shots. He must understand that the best thing he can do is not force the action but rather force the defense into making hard choices. His job isn’t necessarily to beat the double himself but to make the play that ends up beating the double.
- Gasol will need to keep his scoring touch going. I hope to see him use his length advantage against Diaw and his quick first step to create off the dribble when he’s isolated at the high post. Making a few jumpers will only open up his options so he must prove he can knock that shot down early and then build his attack off of that.
- Sessions must attack Parker as often as possible and must use his speed to create opportunities in the open court when they present themselves. The Spurs aren’t a good offensive rebounding team, mostly because they want to get back in transition. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not vulnerable in this area. When Bonner and Splitter are on the floor they can be run on and Sessions must recognize when he has the chance to be a one man fast break. Look for these chances most when Bonner is in the corner on offense and there’s a long rebound.
- Sessions must also be smart in the P&R. If Diaw starts out on Gasol, I’d love to see a heavy dosage of 1/4 P&R’s to make Boris be a primary defender on this action. He doesn’t have the quickness to keep Sessions in front of him AND make his rotation back to the paint or to his man (who should be popping into space).
Without Kobe the Lakers are in a bit of a pickle tonight. They’ll be missing their primary wing threat and will need their bigs and Sessions to carry the offense. That said, Ron can do damage against this team with quick post ups and by knocking down the open three pointers that will be made available to him. Barnes and Blake will also need to hit some shots as those long jumpers will keep the defense honest and make sure Sessions has room to drive and the bigs have room to operate in the post. If the ball moves and shots fall, the Lakers can play with any team (even sans Kobe) and earn this win tonight. If they defend the three and make the Spurs take and make contested long two pointers, their chances of winning are even higher.
Getting a win tonight would be a good first step in the home stretch where they’ll see this team two more times after tonight. The Lakers know what it will take: effort, energy, and execution. Let’s see them get it done.
Where you can watch: 5:30pm start on KCAL. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710AM.
This will be our biggest win of the season if we can pull this off with no KB.
Win or Lose Bynum needs to show up
Anon: This will be a tough game signs point to a loss. But Bynum and Sessions need to step their games up. I’m hoping for efficient 30 from both of them.
T. Rogers says
I’m just not sure what conclusions should be drawn about these games at this point. The Lakers gave Dallas a smackdown at the end of the regular season last year. Then they were swept by Dallas in the playoffs. Even if the Lakers won tonight I am not sure it would tell us much if the Pop’s big three play short minutes.
Between injuries, players being rested for the playoffs, and teams on the bubble jockeying for a spot, it seems these games are best for teams establishing consistency going into the post season. However, these games may provide little in understanding advantages or disadvantages from an X’s and O’s standpoint. There is no way Pop shows his hand to the Lakers in these three upcoming games. They were upset as the number seed last season. Pop clearly has his eye on the post season.
T. Rogers says
I’d like to see two things tonight. First, I want the defense to stand up and be counted. Keep them off the offensive glass. Keep Parker out of the paint. And limit the open threes. The Spurs really like the three point line. Second they need to win. The Clippers are still their heels so they need as many W’s as possible. I’d rather see a close loss with the Lakers manning up their starters than a win were they let the bench warmers run wild with the scoreboard.
Bynum might show up, but lakers will still lose.
The Lakers have no more than a 10-15% chance of winning this game. If they get down 15 or so in the 2nd q, Brown should get Pau, Bynum and Sessions a little rest. He probably won’t, though.
Ron may see some time at pf. Spurs aren’t a big team some benefits may come from that.
With Kobe out these games it shows who’s ready to carry the team in the future. No need to look to far ahead but it’s no secret Lakers are looking for the next guy. No matter the result Sessions and Bynum have to show there the guys in this stretch.
Also looking to see if Spurs have a jump on the offense. They may know some of the sets.
I wouldn’t keep Bynum out this game, however if coach Brown sat Gasol, I could understand it. Gasol & Kobe are the oldest two players on the top 20 “minutes played per game” list this season. As a matter of fact Joe Johnson is the only other player age 30 or older on the list.
3rd place in the west would be nice, but a healthy, rested team for the post-season is preferred.
Funky Chicken says
rr, I agree. On paper, there’s not much hope for an inconsistent Laker team playing without Kobe to beat perhaps the league’s most consistent team when fully healthy. If so, and if the Lakers find themselves far behind, I hope that at a minimum Brown finds time for Pau to get some rest.
This Spurs team, with the contributions they get from castoffs like Danny Green and Bonner, and guys like Gary Neal who struggled to break into the league – all of it is a testament to phenomenal coaching. I don’t like Pop, but you have to be crazy if you don’t respect his body of work.
I’m not saying we can’t beat the Spurs in the playoffs by any means – but strictly from a coaching standpoint, it is not going to be fun to watch Popovich coach circles around Brown. In-game adjustments are not Brown’s strong suit (they weren’t Phil’s either, but that was because he was brilliant at just about everything else).
13. Getting OKC in the second round is not worth it
HP Basketball has been tweeting some awesome stats on FG percentages on contested shots and wide open shots and clutch shots. Kobe hasn’t faired to well… But most of that in my opinion has to do with him having to play PG for most of the season. And then they threw this tweet down…
@HPbasketball: Minimum 100 possessions, shot clock under 4, all types of shots, sorted by FG%, Kobe Byrant is 43rd at 27%. Andrew Bynum is 5th at 42%.
Oh… And I predict a Lakers victory since the Spurs don’t match up well with us and we will be pumped up to play a good team without Kobe on the road.
Lakers have to compete. 1st quarter will tell how this game goes
I haven’t really had a chance to watch Duncan much lately. So far he looks like a shell of himself. I hope Pau and Drew can take advantage of his ‘Fishlike’ age. 🙂
That was totally in jest…you guys know how much I love Fisher!
Nice move Pau! Timmy not very happy with that call. Bynum would have gotten a technical from the refs if he would have done what Timmy did.
Sessions is doing a good job on Parker
Looks like Timmy can still play defense…he just swatted Drew. We have to make SA pay for defending Pau with Bonner. I wish we had anyone that could shoot like him.
Wondering why Brown’s defense can’t guard the 3. He learned it from Pop and they are one of the best in the league at defending. Odd.
Sessions is a fearless stud.
Bynum! Beasting right now, yes!
This is what I want to see from Bynum. Get 50 rebounds tonight ‘Drew!
Bynum’s finding some range with his jumper. That’d be a pretty damn fine development in his offensive repertoire.
Bynum’s hustle is winning this game
The Zen Master’s trick my be working on bynum hmmm
I do not disagree with rr et al with regard to the fact that this is going to be a very difficult game. That said we can’t pitch these games away. If we drop to 5th you can mail it in. It will not happen from 5th or worse.
Michael H says
I have a good feeling about tonight. This is a classic trap game for the Spurs. The Lakers will not be feeling any pressure since they are not suppose to win. And as we all have seen over and over in the NBA teams tend to let up when the oppositions star is not playing. And we do match up well inside, so we’ll see.
as long as our lead doesn’t extend to double-digits, we should be ok.
Stay at home and play defense on your own man. You have two 7 footers that should be able to control the paint!
Good eye, Benny!
Whenever Barnes makes a bad pass for a turnover, he always gets a defensive foul the next time down the floor.
once Lakers realise that half of the Spurs O is based on 3’s we can beat this team
Love the way Ron Artest is playing tonight, Bynum doing work on the boards.
I haven’t seen the season stats on this, so this is almost a question for the forum—is SA always this bad on the defensive glass?–the o-rb’s are keeping LA in business
Lakers are on Parker’s hips off the screens. PnR defense is better he’s missing shots but defense is better
double-digit lead ffffuuuuuuuu
no, san antonio is an elite defensive rebounding team.
Wow. Tim can still play defense. I just want ‘Drew to keep doing what he is doing on the glass!
why doesn’t Drew shoot as many free throws as Dwight Howard?
Bynum was slapped around by nearly every spur on that put back attempt called a blocked shot. Refs are letting a lot of play go on for everyone outside a purple uniform.
James: I was thinking the same thing. Tonight he’s getting no calls neither are the Lakers.
This team is so much different when Bynum plays hard and play defense
A very well-officiated game–until the last two minutes or so of the half—crazy amount of contact allowed on the LA end, considering the ticky-tacks that put SA on the line late….Drew is going to have to endure a slow whistle for the rest of the year thanks to his antics.
Would be up by probably 6-8 more points if we could get a call from the refs.
Don’t worry… When Drew gets little rest to recharge before the playoffs… He will be dunking those around the rim. But yes… Eventually the refs will realize the opposing defenses are fouling half the time he touches the ball.
Wow. What a half. If Drew and Pau were each shooting 50% we would be up by 15. Great job on the boards by Drew! I wonder if Phil got into his head? Maybe Jeannie begged him to do it lol.
15 shots for Drew and 0 free throws? Thats almost impossible for someone who plays at the rim
I don’t know if I buy that Aaron. @42
Not that he isn’t getting fouled and not getting the whistle…they have missed some calls, but this has happened all year. And it’s not only him either. Pau doesn’t get the respect from the refs and Kobe never really has gotten the full-on ‘Jordan’ treatment like some superstars.
Bynum 19 rebounds- Spurs 18 rebounds at the half. He is 3 away from his career high of 22 rebounds.
T. Rogers says
I think its Andrew rep for talking back to the refs that is keeping him from getting to the line as much as he should. He will simply have to play through it. I still can’t believe he has 19 boards at the half. I’d love to see him get 30 rebounds for the game (with a win to go with it).
SPurs are 7 -12 from 3. But Parker is 1 -7. He’s the key to SA stop him your chances of winning skyrocket.
I’ll take 20 points and 30 rebounds on 8/20 shooting! Just as long as he keeps up this energy on the boards and on defense. He just needs to keep quiet with the refs and play his game. Hopefully his average will slide back up towards the mean.
@ T. Rogers:
That’s exactly why he’s not getting the calls from the refs. He recognizes this himself, that’s why he refrained from complaining to the refs after he was called for that foul on Manu that was clearly a clean block.
Nice block ‘Drew! Love the way he kinda split the double-team… Wow the lead jumped to 13 pretty quickly there!
Ron Artest with the blind side steal and goes coast to coast for the layup.
So, I just tuned in. Who are these guys in purple who are playing team ball and rotating sharply on defense?
These kind of games make suffering through watching the pathetic play vs Utah and Houston and Phoenix without their key players worth it.
lets keep this 10+ points lead in this game!
Bynum 23 boards! MWP has gone back to the Houston days! Gasol is quietly doing his job. I like Ebanks energy wish he was shooting like he did at the start of the year.
The next two games against the Spurs are going to be battles. I think the Spurs underestimated the Lakers.
We finally have Ron Artest on the Lakers
Throwback Ron Artest night.
Wow, remember when our SF was a weakness? Geez where have these two guys been?
Great game of dominance by Bynum. Rebounds galore.
Doesn’t appear Lakers miss D. Fish’s “veteran” leadership on the court without Kobe.
MWP! Stop it!
Is this real life? What on earth has gotten into Ron?
I must be in some kind of Metta World Dream! What in the world am I seeing? Who is this guy? Roy Hobbs?
Please don’t mess with this unit right now Brown.
So can we take bets on how early Pop sits his starters if the lead remains double digits? Maybe to start the fourth.
Way to ruin a run Brown. Why is Murphy/Blake on the court?
No Troy Murphy No
Excellent game. So far. Up 16 headed to the 4th. If we somehow happen to blow this lead, the players will have No One to blame but themselves.
Bynum has to be happy for MWP, he’s done nothing the best 3 years but play defense. Yes, he should have gotten the ball on the last play, but MWP is playing passionately on both ends of the floor.
Bynum smiled for the first time tonight on that dunk by McHops!
This is the team I’ve envisioned for the playoffs. This is how we do it!
Great job officiating, Benny!
This is the Bynum that I love! Playing defense hard and 25 boards!! I can live with his poor shooting percentage when he gives Kobe Effort™
MWP is playing some ridiculous ball lately. This is the guy that we need at the 3.
Bynum is altering shots, manning the paint and his teammates fed off the early energy he brought.
Thing is Bynum can dominate defensively like this every game. Positive signs.
Wow. Transition defense and ORB’s!
Casual Fan says
Love the fact that for quite some while, Bynum alone had more rebounds than the entire Spurs team!
Anyways, what did I miss during the first half, guys?
Eventually feeding the beast if it happens to be MWP becomes torturous. He looks like a linebacker fading away, and when his game is on, his offensive attempts become even more twisted and confusing. But its working… And Gasol is really working the 15-18
lights? out. eggs? cooling. butter? hard. and the jello? jiggling.
I love listening to these dejected Spurs announcers! So awesome! I really want Bynum back in there to get his 30 rebounds. I’m so selfish…
Are we in a time warp? This is 2004 Ron Artest right?
im pleading with Mike Brown to stick with the MVP/Barnes combo with the bench in the future.
PS That MWP flat footed 3 was hilarious
T. Rogers says
“Metta found Ron Artest”
-The Great Philosopher Kobe Bryant
Spurs announcers just highlighted the fact that Bynum’s rebounding numbers have gone down from 13 to 10 to 9 per game until this one. This will put him back above 10 haha!
well I guess Brown has not learnt regarding Blake and Sessions back court
Ah, back to the tried and trusted Blake-Sessions backcourt. Delightful.
Lakers cant seem to keep big leads huh
Bynum with 30 rebounds! Good job ‘Drew! On another night where your shot was pretty off, you kept with it and made your imprint on defense and with rebounding.
Co-tenants defeated OKC
Anybody who bet on the Lakers and Clipper both would win tonight is either a lier or a genius.
Hahaha Bynum wanted the ball in the end to shoot the 3!!!
And he just cursed on kcal 9!!!
Bynum with 30 rebounds.
Did you see bynum asking for the ball at the end? He wanted to shoot a 3 pointer…hilarious.
I was looking at the box and was about to say Gasol and Bynum put up Kobesque shooting percentages until I looked at the rebounds…
Bynum played hard on every possession in the game. Was fouled hard repeatedly with no calls, but kept his composure. He’ll need to continue doing that for the remainder of his career. Soon he’ll get 10 free throws a game.
Now, you know why we can’t trade Pau…not anytime soon. Bynum and Pau are proving to be quite a pair in the paint.
Bynum thanks for shutting me up.
Now play like this every game
1 Offensive rebound for the Spurs! That..I like
Anybody watching the celts/hawks game on nbatv? These announcers are hilarious.
shutting down parker was a reason this wasn’t close before the run. you shut down parker you usually win.
But these games will go differently with Kobe in the lineup.
-Execution offensively was fantastic! they had a great rythm and flow tonight which was great to see
-Bynum was awesome on the boards and was engaged tonight
-Metta continues to round into form offensively (becoming an offensive threat that teams genuinely have to worry about come playoffs)
-Bench contributed tonight
-Mike Brown knows how to counter Poppovich’s system
Things we won’t see (but hope to see more of) on a nightly basis:
Lakers shoot excellent tonight (except when they stopped playing after getting that 26pt lead)
Spurs play below average (except when Green went off in the 4th)
Things I hope not to see on a nightly basis:
-The Sessions Blake back court. I mean, Barnes was playing well and the Barnes/Peace combo was doing great. Why go small when Sessions could cover Mills and Barnes can stick with Green in the 4th?
-Bynum acting like a 10-yr old in the end, wanting to get the ball from Blake and shoot a 3. I’m glad Blake didn’t give him the ball ‘coz that would just be totally disrespectful to the Spurs (and in their home court to boot). But that scene in the end was comparable to Metta’s almost gaffe in the Hornets game.
Lakers did an outstanding job on the defensive boards limiting the Spurs to 1 ORB. Very impressive win sans Kobe. Ron Artest and Andrew Bynum share players of the game. Great all around effort by the Lakers.
Lakers made the most of 7 Spurs turnovers scoring 15 points off of the turnovers.
Yep. I watched the end of the Celts/Hawks game.
Tommy Heinsohn–Celtics Color Commentator
Worst. Announcer. Ever.
Edwin Gueco says
It goes with the victorious team, I’ll give the Coach the overdue credit in preparing his players against the mighty Spurs. Their 3 bigs didn’t expect this kind of humiliation on their own court.
Go Lakers, that’s the Lakers we know that will immediately bring back those Laker flags.
Watch out Celtic leprechauns, you’re not alone on those glorious victories, Lakers are also warming up.
Spurs: 33 Rebounds
Bynum: 30 Rebounds
Lakers: 16 Offensive Rebounds
Spurs: 1 Offensive Rebound
Lakers gave the Spurs fits with their size, even if the Lakers’ bigs did not necessarily shoot great.
Edwin Gueco says
Metta’s preseason is over, his season is just starting now.
Why do you’ve to change to world peace, we love the plain peaceful Artest? Those super hot Artestic Shots!
Yup, Heinsohn being the biggest homer equals worst commentator in the league.
Do you all realize Parker who killed Fisher year after year was 2 for 12 tonight! Wow!
My only questions is why dosen’t Andrew play defense and rebound like this every game?
I just hope the Lakers do not blow any more of this lead that they have, 3 minutes is a lot of time.
lil' pau says
What an unbelievable game! Just when I was feeling a little Lakers-weary… they pull me back in!
Ron Artest’s 26 points tonight was his Lakers career high.
Last time Lakers had a big win they layed 2 eggs after. But this win was different all about defense. If Bynum chooses to man the paint Lakers are a different team. And all the tings Darius noted in defense post yesterday were better. PnR defense, the bigs being 1 sec early on rotations to the rim, lakers were closing out challenging 3s guys weren’t blowing past the guards. Same type of challenge vs Denver bottle this up and carry it over to the next game.
Let’s enjoy Bynum’s game – talent + effort. Let’s not lament that he doesn’t play like this every game. Or that the Lakers don’t give all out effort like this every night.
If you are, ask yourself, do you give 100% at work every day? Most people can’t even go to the gym every day, let alone be mentally focused enough to work out all day and battle through injury, travel, media etc. Don’t give me the “I don’t make millions” argument – every day becomes routine, no matter how much you make, that’s adulthood. It’s hard to avoid settling into that sameness and lack of drive.. Should you try hard to avoid it and be a professional? Of course.
I’m bring this up now because I’d rather not after a weak effort and be called out for making excuses. And I think it’s important we enjoy these types of games so we can appreciate what it took to get here.
Thanks Phil, for inspiring Bynum’s play this evening. The last sentence of your comments to the la times, must have hit home for him.
As Pat Riley said, “No rebounds, No rings”.
Don Ford says
Adam (8:35pm) – had the same thought! I can’t believe that Phil has that much power over Bynum, but ya gotta wonder if Phil’s classic tweak had some effect on him. Now let’s see if it lasts. Bynum has such potential, so fun to see when he fulfills it.
So here is what we have to figure out. How can we get this Bynum on the defensive end and on the boards, but get the old Bynum’s offensive numbers? Well, once we add Kobe back into the line-up, Bynum will get some easier shots and bring that shooting percentage back up! Then, if he can just keep this whole ‘defense and rebounding’ thing going that Phil Jackson was talking about….we will be able to beat just about anyone. Add in a All World-MWP and we have a pretty damn good team!
This game is why Phil Jackson needs a Twitter account.