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Spurs avoid total meltdown, hand Lakers their 5th straight loss

Jan 10, 2013, 12:27 AM EDT

Tony Parker, Gregg Popovich, Manu Ginobili AP

In what’s been a familiar site lately, the Lakers lost a game on Wednesday night, this time to the Spurs 108-105. The loss drops them to 15-20 on the season and represents another shovel of dirt on their playoff chances in what’s been their most disappointing season…maybe ever.

The win gave the Spurs their 15th win (in only 17 games) in San Antonio this season and allows them to keep pace with the red hot Clippers and Thunder in the standings by pushing their record to 28-10 on the year. The win also allows the Spurs to bounce back from a loss in their most recent game, un unsettling defeat to the Hornets.

The result to this game, for nearly everyone, was a foregone conclusion. The Lakers have stunk, were missing Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, and were on the second night of a back to back. Meanwhile, the Spurs are the Spurs and were playing at home. It really should have been that simple.

Except, of course, it wasn’t. I guess that’s why they play the games.

Early on the game went mostly as expected. The Spurs were able to build a relatively comfortable lead, using a combination of good off ball movement and their size advantage to get easy shots inside. The Lakers, as they have all year, struggled to defend for multiple passes and were thus beat by back door cuts when the ball was reversed while also falling victim to offensive rebounds when they didn’t help the helper on San Antonio dribble penetration.

As the game went on, the Lakers did well to stay within striking distance with Metta World Peace (23 points) able to take advantage of his match up with Tiago Splitter by scoring inside off dribble penetration and out by making deep jumpers when Splitter got sucked into the paint.

The Lakers were also bolstered by a career night from Earl Clark who, thrust into the rotation due to L.A.’s injuries, found creases in the Spurs’ defense. Clark used his athleticism and active legs to slash into the lane and get shots close to the basket and then hit his mid-range jumper when the defense sagged off him. Clark’s 22 points (on only 12 FGA’s) were surely found money for the Lakers but desperately needed someone to offset the cold shooting night Kobe Bryant was having.

However, even with the Lakers keeping it close the Spurs were right there to snuff out any attempt for an upset. Whenever the Spurs needed a bucket, Tony Parker (24 points, 6 assists, 10-16 shooting) would drive to the rim or hit a mid-range jumper. If not Parker, then Ginobili (19 points, 8 rebounds) would go on the attack and either hit a key shot or draw a foul that sent him to the foul line.

If the game had actually continued in this fashion — and it certainly looked like it would — no one would have batted an eyelash at the result. After all, it’s what we all expected.

But in the lead in to the fourth quarter, the Lakers started to make one more push that felt different. Down by 17, World Peace hit a three pointer. After a Ginobili turnover, Kobe then hit a short jumper to cut the Spurs’ lead to 12. A Parker miss was followed by an Earl Clark long 2 and suddenly it was 10. The quarter would end with Kobe hitting another jumper to cut make it a single digit game, but with Manu getting it back to 10 with free throws.

With the stage set, the 4th quarter became a drama filled period with both sides showing some clutch shot making to give their side a boost. A running Nash jumper from 19 feet was countered by a Gary Neal three pointer. A Clark lay in off a Nash pass would only give a short momentum boost as Stephen Jackson hit a three, and then another. Before you knew it the Spurs were back up by 16 and with only 7 minutes to go the game was over.

Not so fast. Here is where the game got really good.

Furiously, the Lakers began their final try at a win. And, in one of the more un-Spurs like performance you’ll see, it looked like San Antonio wanted the Lakers to have it. Spurs turnovers became Laker baskets. Made shots by Antawn Jamison, World Peace, and Kobe seemed to only further unravel the Spurs.

With Stephen Jackson arguing a non-foul call, he earned himself an ejection after two technicals and, with the ensuing FT’s the Lakers would only trail by 5. The possession that followed was the Lakers best of the game where nearly every player touched the ball and it ended with a Jamison lay up off a nifty pass from Nash. Three point game.

Sadly, for the Lakers, that would be as close as they’d get, though the last minute of the game was just as exciting. A Ginobili three pointer to push the Spurs back up to 6 was quickly countered by a triple by Clark. On the Spurs final possession they’d turn the ball over and give the Lakers one last shot.

However, in the most anticlimactic of endings the final Laker shot would be what we’ve all seen countless times. Even though the team was down three, Mike D’Antoni eschewed a set play call and instead gave the ball to Kobe to work in isolation deep on the wing. He rose up a foot behind the three point line and missed a contested jumper that bounced harmlessly off the rim. Ball game.

As it stands, the Lakers, though shorthanded, are showing more fight than they have all year. But, it’s just not making a difference in the win column. This game offered excitement, but like so many other games this season it ended in disappointment.

Meanwhile the Spurs just keep trucking. They came into the game with the league’s 5th ranked offense and defense in terms of points per possession. This game did nothing to show they can’t continue to keep that up, though I’m sure Coach Popovich would have liked a cleaner finish.

I’m also sure he’s not going to give this win back. No matter how much the Lakers could have used it.

 

  1. eventhorizon04 - Jan 10, 2013 at 12:37 AM

    The Lakers are tough to figure out.
    Back when they were only down 1 All-Star (Nash), they gave very inconsistent effort, and the losses piled up early in the year.
    This game, you saw (mostly) good effort throughout the game despite not having their top-3 Bigs (Pau, Howard, and Hill) and a furious rally in the end.

    Basically, if the Lakers had played the entire season with as much tenacity as they played with tonight (down several key players, on the second-night of a back-to-back, against an elite opponent), they’d be in much better shape in terms of record to this point.

    It’s weird to say, but maybe this is a loss they can build off of, in the sense that this level effort *has* to be the new standard the team holds themselves to from now on. *Maybe* the season isn’t lost if they start playing desperate. Maybe.

    • eventhorizon04 - Jan 10, 2013 at 12:40 AM

      Also, a shout-out to Metta World Peace.

      People (rightly) mention Kobe and Nash as keeping the Lakers afloat right now, but MWP has been playing bigger than most people realize, especially on offense.

      • somekat - Jan 10, 2013 at 12:44 AM

        Keeping them afloat? They’ve lost 6 of 7. They were .500 on xmas.

        If that’s your idea of keeping them afloat, I’d hate to see your idea of tanking. That’s more putting up #’s on a bad team

      • eventhorizon04 - Jan 10, 2013 at 1:01 AM

        I wasn’t aware that a team losing by 3 points to a top-3 team in the West despite missing 2 of their best 4 players qualified as “tanking.”

        There’s a difference between “losing” and “not being competitive.” I don’t know how anybody who watched this game would walk away thinking the Lakers weren’t competitive – the game came down to the final possession.

        And if your point is that the Lakers have played poorly for most of the season, see my original comment. Everybody is aware they’ve sucked – I even said the team may be near the point where it’s too late to save the season.

    • skids003 - Jan 10, 2013 at 8:00 AM

      It’s amazing to me that the all wonderful great one Kobe isn’t great enough to pull it out for them. Maybe he’s not as wonderful as he thinks he is?

  2. badintent - Jan 10, 2013 at 12:38 AM

    Guess Coach D has been watch tape of the best team in LA , The Clippers, and how they use their great bench to win tight games or blow out Lakers. Or he can watch the Knicks’s great bench for pointers too. The Knicks blew out the Spurs with their bench last game these teams played.Clark should get some of Meeks’ minutes.

  3. BigBeachBall - Jan 10, 2013 at 1:06 AM

    Locker room divided they have…

  4. shorttracknews - Jan 10, 2013 at 2:23 AM

    Not a Lakers fan at all but I find it pretty stupid that every story about them lately says their playoff chances are done. They are 4.5 games back of the 8th seed with 47 games left to play. People act like they are 5 games back with 7 to play. They will get healthy and have a little run where they win 4 or 5 in a row and be right back in it. Ridiculous to say they are done and the season isn’t even half over.

    • 1historian - Jan 10, 2013 at 8:07 AM

      I have to agree with you but a fella can hope, can’t he?

    • abchome - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:25 AM

      They are 15-20 (.428) and need to finish 31-16 (.659) to get 46 wins for a probable 8th seed in the west. Can they jump from .428 to .659 for the remainder of the season? Maybe but it won’t be easy. For reference the pretty good Warrors are only .647 to date.

      BTW winning 5 games won’t make up a 5 games difference unless the teams ahead lose 5 games as well. Also before they can win 5 in a row, they have to win one first…

      • shorttracknews - Jan 12, 2013 at 9:19 PM

        So the 8th seed (which is only 4 games above .500 now) is gonna be 10 games above .500 at the end of the year with a 46-36 record? Anything can happen, but at current rate the 8th seed will be 43-39. Not that much of a change but it brings the winning percentage down to (.595) for the Lakers to get in. I personally hope they don’t, but still to early to book the funeral.

  5. wavywavy - Jan 10, 2013 at 4:17 AM

    What we have learned:

    Earl Clark had a better game than Oww Gasoft has had all season also the invisible wind that is let in every game continues to knock down Ancient Nash and his matador defense… while Kobe the Mumbo still Mambos on defense and gets worked on the perimeter from an equally OLD spurs team that actually happens to play defense. Even the Clippers are older than the Slowtime/Blowtime Lackers squad as a whole and they are looking like globetrotters on the floor.

    • mytthor - Jan 11, 2013 at 1:34 AM

      We’ve also learned that the ancient internet art of brilliant name switcheroo has been perfected. 12 year olds of the world, rejoice, for your savior has arrived!

  6. bucrightoff - Jan 10, 2013 at 7:35 AM

    What kind of odds would I have gotten say right after the Howard trade that the Lakers would be playing for moral victories 35 games into the season? Right to me the top 7 spots are locked in for the Playoffs: LAC, OKC, SA, Memphis, Golden State, Houston, Denver. And since the issue that is the biggest problem for the Lakers isn’t and won’t be getting fixed (the D), they will have to win games as an old team with no bench 110-108. Them missing the playoffs is probably a 50/50 proposition.

  7. aboogy123456 - Jan 10, 2013 at 8:26 AM

    The Lakers have played great the last couple of games but the story is the lack of a shot blocker. Without Dwight or even Jordan Hill, guys have been finishing at the basket way too often. I think the season is about to turn around once they get back.

    I like how kobe said in the game last night that going through this adversity could build championship character. Once they are healthy they are going to make a run at the championship, this year.

  8. omniusprime - Jan 10, 2013 at 8:58 AM

    Sad that the old geezers of the Spurs sen to find ways to win while the old geezers of the Lakers find ways to lose. Why? It’s the Spurs who have a great coach while the Lakers are stuck with a loser like Dumbtoni. We can see his lack of coaching ability when he just gives Kobe the ball late in the game asking him to do another stupid isolation play that fails, like it usually does. Dumbtoni is just too ignorant to be able to come up with a smart set play that involves team play.

    As long as the Lakers have the worst coach in the NBA in Dumbtoni and the most decrepit point guard in Ancient Nash the Lakers will keep on losing. As long as that little idiot buss boy keeps running the team into the ground we Laker fans are going to be frustrated.

    Fire Dumbtoni!!! Trade Away Ancient Nash!!! We Want Phil!!! We Want Jeanie!!!

  9. paulhargis53 - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    aboogy: Do you even know what a torn labrum is? It requires surgery to correct it fully. If Howard does not opt for that, he will be limited all year. Ask Jared Allen how fun it is, his qb sack total took a nosedive because of this same injury.

    It’s good that you don’t give up hope and,all, but this team, as constructed is not a title caliber team.
    15-20, with a loss to the Thunder coming up. It’s nearing the halfway point and your team is under.500. Quit being delusional.

    • aboogy123456 - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:16 AM

      Last night gave me hope as a lakers fan, and the team will only get better and better. The playoffs start in late April, right now it’s January. As for Dwight howard’s injury, I’ve read that he will be back in a week. His back is also getting better and better and from what I’ve read he should be 100% by the playoffs.

      I feel the lakers had the offseason they needed to build a championship team, and I’m not changing my mind because we still haven’t seen them fully healthy. The perimeter defense is weak but that’s always been the case. The difference this year is that they have an elite rim protector in Howard and jordan Hill has shown he can protect the rim when howard is on the bench.

      • lmoneyfresh - Jan 10, 2013 at 11:40 AM

        You have an elite rim protector in D12, who is tired of being the only one playing D as well. He seems to be getting tired of Kobe playing Ole! defense and relying on him to make up for it. All while taking the majority of the shots. Otherwise though, that scenario sounds great. They’re totally going to make a title run..

  10. paulhargis53 - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:47 AM

    As I said, I commend you for the backing of your team. You though, like many of your fellow fans, are being unrealistic.

    That torn labrum may only keep him out for a week now. One hard foul on him and it could tear completely. Or, just reaggrevate it. The only cure for it is surgery and rehab.
    Regardless, the team defense is horrendous and hasn’t and will not change.After Sunday, this team is most likely 15-22. 7 games under.500.

    You need to be a bit more realistic, but, you are a laker fan so……..

    • aboogy123456 - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:17 AM

      you could be absolutely right about the lakers. What I’m trying to say is that it’s hard for anybody, laker fan or not, to judge the potential of the team this early in their development. We still haven’t seen them at full strength with at least a little time to gel. they are in a hole right now but it’s still possible for them to be the team us laker fans thought they would be.

      • bucrightoff - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:51 AM

        The thing is, we’ve seen a few games with them at full strength, and the issues that will doom them (poor D and too much Kobe) are difficult to fix. If Kobe wants to win a ring again, he is going to have to swallow his pride and try and limit himself to 16-20 shots a game. But we all know that’s not gonna happen.

      • aboogy123456 - Jan 10, 2013 at 11:03 AM

        Kobe will do what it takes to win a championship, I don’t think his pride is that much of an issue as people make it out to be. Lakers have not been at full strength. They need Dwight howard to absolutely dominate teams, and he’s been playing well but he said he’s around 70%. that extra 30% will really help the lakers. On many nights Dwight needs to be the best player on the court but he’s just not there yet. I also don’t think they are full strength when they’ve only played together a handful of games. I know it will come, but they are running out of time.

      • abchome - Jan 10, 2013 at 11:26 AM

        Kobe will do what it takes to win a championship…

        maybe, but not defense…

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bvJivGNoUw&feature=player_detailpage#t=106s

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bvJivGNoUw&feature=player_detailpage#t=239s

      • lmoneyfresh - Jan 10, 2013 at 11:43 AM

        Kobe will do what it takes to win a championship. As long as that is scoring and shooting more than anybody else on the team.

  11. loungefly74 - Jan 10, 2013 at 12:56 PM

    At my signal…unleash hell. hey! hey! i gave the signal already several times! Lakers, unleash hell, damn you! why won’t you listen?! aggghhhhhh!

  12. hannsta - Jan 10, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    What really summed up the team for me was with 1 min left, down by 3, Howard was over on the bench jumping up and down smiling with a few guys, enjoying the last seconds of a close game, and Kobe was stone cold pissed. Howard calmed down a bit after the last shot missed but Kobe only got more pissed. Im not a Laker fan, but I cant imagine that conflict of personalities is helping much. And I cant imagine seeing the happy go lucky Howard made Kobe any more happy.

  13. paulhargis53 - Jan 10, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    You know what is funny as hell?

    lakerluver is hanging out on a Timberwolves thread pining over Kevin Love coming to the lakers.

    Hiding out instead of facing the music on the laker threads. What a douche.

    • jimeejohnson - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:20 PM

      Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Wilt the Stilt Chamberlain with the great Bill Russell. Avocado on a lobster roll. Aerosmith at the Hollywood Bowl.

  14. johnflenoil - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    I’ve been a Laker fan for many years. I’m pleased with the comeback against the Spurs even though they fell a little short. Unfortunately the Lakers are being run by “little jimmy buss” who has made one stupid mistake after another in his decision making. They are being coached by a guy who doesn’t have a clue as to how to get the best out of the talent he has. I feel sorry for Kobe, because he’ll never get a sixth ring as a Laker.

    • badintent - Jan 11, 2013 at 5:49 PM

      poooooor laker fan. MAN UP .Knick natiion had that tool Thomas as GM, Dolan douchebag owner and all the drama for years Now the time for the wheel to turn is here. deal with it.or get on the clipper bandwagon.I Don’t feel 4 kobe he got $60 million for 3 more years.he can buy a ring 4 himself.

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