Even without Tim Duncan, the San Antonio Spurs came out of their away game against the Los Angeles Lakers with a 91-85 win that might not have been the smoothest, yet still showcased the ability of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to lead and dominate even without the missing angle from their big three triangle.
This was the first Lakers – Spurs game since 1996 without both Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan playing in it. While the Lakers look lost, an pretty much like a lottery team without Kobe Bryant, the Spurs have gone 13-8 without Tim Duncan these last couple of years, having a deep enough frontcourt in Tiago Splitter, Boris Diaw and a surprising name like Jeff Ayres to make up for his absence.
The Lakers did have a strong, 33-18 start to the game, with the Spurs missing 10 of their first 12 shots, but Tony Parker woke up at some point, leading San Antonio on a 15-2 run. Manu Ginobili hit a big three to open the second half; despite the constant lead chances early in the fourth quarter, San Antonio always looked like the more confident team and created a two-three shot separation the Lakers don’t have the talent to overcome.
It’s sad watching Pau Gasol looking quite alone when he’s with the starting lineup. Steve Nash rested in the trip to the Bay area, avoiding the 31 point loss to the Warriors, but didn’t look fresher for it. He always has a very tough time against Tony Parker, and was simply awful in 23 minutes, hitting only 1-of-8 from the field, finishing with 5 points and 5 assists. Pau Gasol was the only starter in double figures, scoring 20 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
Looking for the bench to somehow rescue the sad looking lineup was too much to ask. Xavier Henry probably peaked in the first game of the season, and finished with only 3 points against the Spurs, going 0-of-6 from the field. Jodie Meeks scored 14 points and Wesley Johnson 12, but the Lakers different lineups can’t match up to their plans and expectations: The starting lineup is trying to play D’Antoni basketball but just isn’t fast or athletic enough for it, while the subs just seem confused on the floor, doing whatever they want, hoping for luck to be on their side.
The Lakers shot an awful 30-of-82 from the field, including 8-of-27 from beyond the arc, missing plenty of open shots along the way. The defensive effort from Kawhi Leonard in the final minutes (Also scored 14 points, grabbing 11 rebounds) proved to be a bit much around the Lakers perimeter, that folds once they face a bit of intensity and defensive pressure.
We had a rough start, but in the second half, we played a lot better. We only know how to play one way, and that’s what we do. We didn’t do anything different. We just ran what we always run, whether (Duncan) is there or not. If Tony was out or Manu was out, we run our same stuff. .Every road win is sweet, so we’ll take it.