Skip to content

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Thursday And-1 Links: Tracy McGrady makes minor league baseball roster as pitcher

    Apr 24, 2014, 6:39 PM EDT

    Tracy McGrady Tracy McGrady

    Mock him if you want, Tracy McGrady is getting paid to play baseball.

  2. Kevin Durant is tired of being asked about Tony Allen. Very tired.

    Apr 24, 2014, 5:46 PM EDT

    Memphis Grizzlies v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game One Getty Images

    Sorry KD, but through two games Allen has been the MVP of this series.

  3. Jabari Parker tells Dan Patrick two-and-done is “ridiculous,” likes ‘Melo comparison

    Apr 24, 2014, 3:59 PM EDT

    Gardner-Webb v Duke Getty Images

    Jabari Parker says he passed more than Carmelo because he had a better team to pass to.

  4. How much would you pay Lance Stephenson in free agency this summer?

    Apr 24, 2014, 3:17 PM EDT

    Boston Celtics  v Indiana Pacers Getty Images

    He wants Steph Curry money, but he’ll likely get more like $7 million a year.

  5. Pau Gasol says he would stay with Lakers for Kobe, but there needs to be changes

    Apr 24, 2014, 2:32 PM EDT

    Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Gasol basically wants D’Antoni gone, but even then he likely moves on.

  6. Oscar Robertson says if he were Carmelo Anthony “I would leave today”

    Apr 24, 2014, 1:56 PM EDT

    Washington Wizards v New York Knicks Getty Images

    Oscar Robertson thinks ‘Melo should get out of Dodge (and go to Houston).

  7. Nick Young’s first pitch at Dodger game is juuuust a bit outside (VINE)

    Apr 24, 2014, 12:01 PM EDT

    Nick Young AP

    He will not be getting a baseball contract soon.

  8. Jason Collins makes the Time 100

    Apr 24, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT

    Bl-5vGACMAE8nxe

    Dwyane Wade does writeup on Serena Williams

  9. Clearly frustrated James Harden argues with reporter, calls him “weirdo”

    Apr 24, 2014, 10:52 AM EDT

    James Harden James Harden

    Harden is frustrated. He should be, shooting under 30 percent for two games.

  10. Mike Conley wins NBA Sportsmanship Award

    Apr 24, 2014, 10:19 AM EDT

    Mike Conley, Kendrick Perkins Mike Conley, Kendrick Perkins

    Grizzlies guard gets Joe Dumars Trophy over Jeff Green, Channing Frye, Bradley Beal, Damian Lillard and Mike Dunleavy

  11. Can LaMarcus Aldridge break the all-time single-playoff scoring record?

    Apr 24, 2014, 9:24 AM EDT

    Portland Trail Blazers v Houston Rockets - Game Two Getty Images

    Trail Blazers forward is averaging 44.5 points trhough two games

  12. LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwight Howard had a duel (VIDEO)

    Apr 24, 2014, 8:46 AM EDT

    LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones

    Dwight Howard was aggressive early and put on a show, but LaMarcus Aldridge won the war.

  13. Thursday NBA playoff previews: Which Indiana team shows up?

    Apr 24, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Paul George AP

    All three series Thursday night are tied 1-1.

Featured video

Wizards playing spoiler in East
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. A. Jefferson (3513)
  2. K. Durant (3004)
  3. L. James (2925)
  4. D. Wade (2851)
  5. D. Rose (2752)
  1. J. Noah (2623)
  2. D. Howard (2516)
  3. K. Bryant (2506)
  4. A. Bogut (2353)
  5. P. George (2270)