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Stifling defensive effort leads Spurs to Game 1 win over Lakers

Apr 21, 2013, 7:09 PM EDT

Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter, Tony Parker, Danny Green, Steve Blake

The Lakers put up a fight in Game 1 of their playoff series in San Antonio on Sunday, and hung within striking distance for most of the game. But thanks to a suffocating defensive effort from the Spurs, L.A. couldn’t score with enough frequency or enough volume the entire afternoon, and sparked offensively by Manu Ginobili off the bench, San Antonio pulled away late for the 91-79 victory.

The Spurs are the higher seed, of course, and the Lakers without Kobe Bryant were a long shot to even keep things competitive enough to push the series beyond four or five games.

But had you told Mike D’Antoni that his team would have held its opponent below 40 percent shooting for the game, stayed even in the rebounding battle, and defended well enough to where Tim Duncan and Tony Parker combined to make just 14 of 36 shot attempts from the field, I think he would have liked his chances.

The Lakers’ problems came on the offensive end, where turnovers killed any opportunity they had to get into a rhythm, especially in the first half. L.A. committed 12 of its 18 turnovers in the first two periods, with Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol combining for half of those with three apiece.

It’s easy to say the Lakers should pound the ball inside, but the Spurs were swarming defensively, often times running an extra defender or two at L.A.’s bigs to create confusion. San Antonio’s rotations were largely flawless, so even on possessions where Gasol or Howard would kick it back out, the Spurs were able to recover and close on the shooters to create tough shots.

And more than once in the second half, the Spurs were able to do this multiple times in a single possession.

As the defense stifled the Lakers’ offense, the Spurs were able to get just enough to gain separation when it mattered most. Ginobili was huge with 18 points in 19 minutes off the bench, which tied him for a team-high with Parker, who needed 21 shots over 37 minutes to accomplish the same.

In a low-scoring, low-shooting percentage game, Ginobili’s personal scoring run to end the third quarter essentially sealed it. He scored eight points in the final 1:38 of the period to push the Spurs’ lead from seven to 13 points, and the shots he made — two three-pointers in transition after a floating left-handed runner over Gasol — were ones that brought with them a palpable momentum change as the game entered its final period.

Steve Nash returned to the Lakers starting lineup after missing the last eight games of the regular season due to a combination hip and back issue that limited his hamstring, and while it was clear he was battling out there, it was also evident that he’s not yet close to 100 percent.

Nash finished with a helpful 16 points and three assists in 29 minutes, but shot an uncharacteristically poor 6-of-15 from the field. It’s unclear whether or not Nash will be ready to go again for Game 2 on Wednesday.

The defensive effort to hold the Spurs to 37.6 percent shooting, along with the way Howard and Gasol were able to rebound are positives the Lakers can take from this one, and if they’re able to repeat those efforts over the course of the series, you’d like to think the offense will come, and will at some point be enough to steal a game or two.

The Spurs, however, would like to believe otherwise. And if San Antonio continues to come up with these types of constricting defensive performances anywhere close to consistently, L.A. is going to suffer through just three more games like this one.

  1. asimonetti88 - Apr 21, 2013 at 7:17 PM

    The Spurs are just so well coached. I wish I could say the same about the Lakers.

    • bucrightoff - Apr 21, 2013 at 9:18 PM

      Yup, why I picked them to win. If Pop was coaching the Lakers and Antoni the Spurs I’d pick the Lakers. When the talent is almost even you go with the better coach. Here the Spurs have more talent and the much better coach.

  2. dalucks - Apr 21, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    I love the Lakers as I have been a fan since 1980. I have to be 100% honest with everyone, the Spurs have more talent and a better head coach than the Lakers.
    In the playoffs, normally the team with more talent and the best head coach win in a sweep.
    Dwight Howard can prove me wrong and lead the Lakers to a playoff series win. I will be watching.
    Here comes a sweep though. I might be wrong but I doubt it.

  3. ihavenonickname - Apr 21, 2013 at 7:55 PM

    If Steven Nash and Pau knock down more of their WIDE OPEN looks that they were getting, we wouldn’t be talking about the spurs defense. Only IF they do will we have a decent series.

  4. uscthom78 - Apr 21, 2013 at 7:59 PM

    Someone get boys ii men 4 their funeral, bc it’s the end of the road for the robin lead fakers.

  5. Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 21, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    You can’t give the Spurs defense THAT much credit, the Lakers missed almost TWO DOZEN WIDE OPEN SHOTS.

    • eventhorizon04 - Apr 21, 2013 at 9:03 PM

      The Lakers have been missing wide open shots all year. They lack shooters, especially without Kobe in the lineup, so it’s actually good defense by the Spurs to crowd the paint and let role players like Metta World Peace, Meeks, Jamison, Clark, and Morris try to beat them with jumpers, rather than give Pau and Howard space to operate in the paint.

      Those 5 role players I mentioned combined to go 4 for 17 for the game (1 for 9 from 3).
      Pau and Howard combined to go 15 of 28.

      • Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 22, 2013 at 12:34 AM

        Gasol has shot so poorly over the past two weeks (but it went overlooked as they were winning), but he has missed about 10 open layups, runners or just wide open jump shots every game since he came back.

      • rexryanstoecheese - Apr 22, 2013 at 9:04 AM

        Pau Gasol missed all those because he is an over-rated, un-athletic, no-muscle, soft as soft-serve, euro-trash-player.

    • fredagsedb - Apr 22, 2013 at 8:25 AM

      Well Duncan missed a lot of wide open shots too from the high post area.

      And if you get the other team to take shots that lessens their chances of success, as in this case, getting the lakers bigs to shoot from mid-range instead of going inside, you play good defense.
      You have to play to your strenghts and to the other teams weaknesses.

  6. fiyeaglesfiy - Apr 21, 2013 at 8:44 PM

    Good defense, worse offense. Would hardly call the Spurs D stifling today, but they were good enough.

    • lucifershuttlesworth - Apr 21, 2013 at 9:32 PM

      The Spurs almost turned this game into a blowout, winning handily while only shooting 38% from the field. I think their D deserves some praise.

  7. rjlink1 - Apr 21, 2013 at 8:52 PM

    If the Lakers had somebody like Kobe Bryant on their team, they’d score more points.

  8. apmn - Apr 21, 2013 at 8:57 PM

    Do Lakers fans get together after the end of the regular season to practice whining? Cuz y’all really got it going tonight!

    • badintent - Apr 22, 2013 at 3:51 AM

      Yeah, they hired a bunch of old Clippers fans to teach up !

  9. jimeejohnson - Apr 21, 2013 at 9:03 PM

    I’d say Lakers fans are “wining” rather than whining right now. It’s after 6PM Pacific Time and that means uncork the best wine in the world even if most of them are grown in Northern California. Petite Syrah!

    • bougin89 - Apr 22, 2013 at 11:44 AM

      “wining” ?? Is that a combination of winning and whining? Like you are winning at whining?

      • Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 22, 2013 at 4:41 PM

        Wining, as in DRINKING, fool. If you’re going to correct someone, at least be accurate.

    • jimeejohnson - Apr 22, 2013 at 8:48 PM

      Wright’s right, again! But my comment was a dud. I actually like beer, you like beer, we like, he likes, she likes, they like…BEER!

  10. brugis23 - Apr 21, 2013 at 9:35 PM

    My freaking god! Stupid, dumb, delusional Fakers fans.

  11. bucrightoff - Apr 21, 2013 at 9:38 PM

    The defense was pretty good, and its the reason the Spurs are better this year than last. Last year a middle of the road defense, this year top 5 again as you’d expect from a Pop team. The Spurs played pretty poorly actually (sub 40% shooting), so they’ll only get better going forward. The Lakers are going to need to play much, much better to have a chance.

  12. mogogo1 - Apr 21, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    It’s a no-win series for the Lakers… everybody knows they’re going to lose, but if they don’t lose bad enough it looks bad for Kobe. Tonight was a good example…the Spurs would likely have won by that same margin or more if Kobe had played.

    • mazblast - Apr 21, 2013 at 11:18 PM

      Ah, but now Lakers fans have something they like almost as much as a championship, a good wine, or a good doobie–a reason to whine.

      “Waaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!! If Kobe had been able to play……”

      • skids003 - Apr 22, 2013 at 9:00 AM

        You know he’s rooting for them to lose, so he can say “if I had played,” you know that ego is saying that.

  13. BigBeachBall - Apr 22, 2013 at 12:08 AM

    Hows your bobcats doing?

  14. Mr. Wright 212 - Apr 22, 2013 at 12:36 AM

    These phaggots kill me. I don’t see a single person on this post whining about anything…

    • lucifershuttlesworth - Apr 22, 2013 at 1:53 AM

      Yeah looks like you are the only one whining, homophobe.

    • thesecondlakerzealot - Apr 22, 2013 at 12:31 PM

      There is no reason to use that language. This is a basketball forum where people are likely to have a different view that yours. At least now we all know how you handle your arguments. By acting like a child.

  15. omniusprime - Apr 22, 2013 at 9:09 AM

    Dumbtoni proved yet again just how clueless his coaching can be. What a pathetic excuse for offense and defense. Ancient Trash Nash was worthless, but then his whole season has been worthless for the Lakers. Same with Steve Flake who can’t play offense or defense.

    Too many turnovers for sure but way too many three point shots, that’s all clueless Dumbtoni wants is lots of stupid threes being shot with way too many misses and not enough offensive rebounds for second chance points. Plus not enough scoring in the paint, Gasol and Howard need more touches inside.

    Fire Dumbtoni!!! Trade Trash Nash and Steve Flake!!! Get Well Soonest Kobe!!!

  16. klownboy - Apr 22, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    I know it’s early, but the Lakers are not making my upset series win over the Spurs prediction look good. Memo to D’Antoni: put Howard and Pau on the block and KEEP THEM THERE.

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