Much was made of Manu Ginobili's hyper-efficient Game 1 line and rightfully so. Ginobili, far removed from his days as the San Antonio Spurs' offensive catalyst, tied a team-high in points (18) in a mere 19 minutes.
Ginobili's longtime backcourt mate, Tony Parker, had a much tougher time against the Lakers. Parker also contributed 18 points to the ledger but he did so on 21 field goal attempts. Parker rarely found pockets of space to operate and when he did, the Lakers frontline disrupted his shots.
Attempts at the rim — where half of Parker's usual shot diet occur according to NBA.com/Stats — and free throws were few and far between. Parker compensated by taking six mid-range shots, only converting two.
Chalk this as a minor victory for the Lakers. Steve Blake, not typically known in NBA circles for his defensive chops, drew the toughest perimeter assignment Sunday and escaped relatively unscathed.
"I was pretty pleased with that (defense on Parker)," Blake said. "We did a good job as a team sticking to our coverages. When he got into the lane I was able to contest and get some deflections on the ball. We did a pretty good job on him."
Game 1 wasn't a defensive anomaly, either. Parker averaged 15.7 points in three regular season meetings — a figure that drops to 11.5 if you eliminate his 24-point outburst in January against a depleted Lakers frontline that included Robert Sacre and Metta World Peace. (Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard were both injured.) In the Spurs' final regular season tune up against Los Angeles, Parker missed all but one of his 10 shots.
The second half was a different story. Parker, who dished six assists in the first half, created his own shot with ease. Though he still wasn't generating contact, Parker made five of nine field goals.
"For me personally, I had a rough shooting night in the first half but in the second half it was better," Parker said. "I needed to get in a rhythm."
The Lakers got a brief glimpse of the Parker who commandeered the Spurs' elite offense earlier in the season. San Antonio, despite a meek performance from their floor general, still created 17 points in transition — traditionally a byproduct of the Frenchman's speed in the open court.
So, yes, Parker was all out sorts for an entire half. The Lakers defense forced him into difficult shots. Yet the Spurs still escaped with a double-digit victory.
Imagine if Parker shows up for the first half, too.