Some things seem to stay the same forever: The San Antonio Spurs are always a good team. Other things tends to change: The Los Angeles Lakers have never been worse, and for a franchise with 16 NBA championships that’s quite a rough landing to endure. In the third meeting between the teams this season, it was once again quite easy to see who the better team is, with Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker not taking it easy on a bad and almost pathetic bunch at times.
The Spurs won 125-109, making it three out of three against the Lakers this season, with the previous win in San Antonio being a 34-point one. This time the Lakers didn’t struggle scoring, but at no point did it seem that they can make even a single defensive play to slow down the Spurs. The Spurs shot 52.6% from the field and a lot of those misses were simply open shots gone wrong, not some smart or good defensive possession on the Lakers side.
Leonard scored 22 points to go with his 10 rebounds and 4 assists as the Spurs once again played that special, envy-inducing style of theirs, helped by the no-defense that appeared before them. More impressive than the seven players in double figures for the Spurs were the 34 assists on their 50 field goals, with Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw and Manu Ginobili all finishing with six. The Lakers, in comparison? Only 19 assists on 39 field goals, with most of their points coming from Pau Gasol (22 points) and Xavier Henry (24 points) on plays that didn’t have anything to do with team basketball. Even the forgotten assist machine, Kendall Marshall, finished with only 3 in 23 minutes.
Tony Parker led the Spurs with 25 points on 11-of-16 from the field, easily weaving his way through that terrible excuse for a defense, as Pau Gasol and Robert Sacre were again and again left completely alone in the paint to score easy points. The Spurs had 54 points in the paint and could have had more if it wasn’t for simply wanting to make things a bit harder on themselves a bit later.
One of the downsides in the NBA compared to lets say European leagues – basketball or soccer, is that strong teams fall from time to time. Maybe parity, salary caps and such things do make it a healthier, more interesting league in the long run, but some solid foundations of leagues should be rivalries. The Spurs – Lakers meetings have been great traditionally, and it’s slightly sad to see the Lakers looking so helpless against any team that plays decent enough basketball with a little bit of defense.
The Lakers aren’t a leading story this season unless the level of incompetence shown in their games and in the overall running of the team these last three years is the issue. The Spurs? More of the same we’ve been used to from them. Smart basketball, winning basketball, this time 11 consecutive games. It might be boring for those who want to see new names rise to the top of the league, but it’s hard to argue about the beauty and efficiency of the product the Spurs put on the floor, making them a very deserving part of the NBA elite.