The San Antonio Spurs don’t have time to worry about how big of a mess the Los Angeles Lakers are in. They lost twice in the last three games, and Tony Parker came through to put them back on a winning track while also making sure, not feeling too sad about it I’m sure, the Lakers remain in their losing rut.
For the Spurs, this season feels the same as any other. Playing well, having a good record while trying to balance some rest here and there for their big three, who lost two of their previous three games to the New York Knicks and New Orleans Hornets. There’s nothing new about the Los Angeles Lakers, and that helped the Spurs overcome them for the second time this season by three points or less, coming up with a 108-105 win.
Tim Duncan had a bad night, shooting only 4-13, finishing with 8 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks. Luckily, the Spurs are something of the antithesis to the Lakers. So many options for someone to have a big night and lead this time, filling in for a star that’s not at his best on the night. Tony Parker finished with 24 points and Manu Ginobili had 19, but there were also four other players who finished in double figures, helping sink the Lakers ship.
The Lakers did make some sort of a comeback, as Kobe Bryant made it 99-105 with a three pointer and 3:32 left on the clock. The Spurs’ offense was stuck, but from the next four possessions, the Lakers could only come up with three points, while the Spurs pulled ahead to 108-102. Earl Clark put the Lakers back in the game, but Kobe Bryant missed a potentially game tying shot.
And don’t be surprised: Over the last 2 seasons and including the playoffs, he is 3-21 on game-tying or go-ahead field goal attempts with less than 24 seconds left in the fourth quarter or overtime. He is 0-3 this season and is well below the league average on such shots, which is 26.3%.
There’s fight in the Lakers since the injury to Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, but it keeps looking like they’re falling too deep and don’t have the tools to get them out of the situation they’re in. After losing five games in a row and falling to 15-20, making the playoffs seems too distant of a goal. Just getting a win or two together needs to be their main goal at the moment.
And what are the chances? According to recent seasons, in order to make the bottom half of the playoffs over the last three years, the Lakers need to finish with 47 wins. That means a 32-15 finish to the season, something they’ve managed to accomplish only once these past three seasons. Not mission impossible, but not too far from it. Over the last 15 seasons, just four Western Conference teams started the season 15-20 or worse and made the playoffs.
For once, there was even something good to say about the Spurs’ defense, which hasn’t been at its best over the last few games – Kawhi Leonard doing a great job on Kobe Bryant, and adding 11 points. The second year player drew praise from Bryant (27 points, 10-24 from the field) on his defensive ability, and made Popovich a very happy man.
Kawhi Leonard was the star of the show as far as I’m concerned. He had a great night and is getting better and better defensively and starting to find his way offensively. I thought that was great.