Friday marked 17 years since the last time both San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan and Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant had not been on the floor in a matchup between the Spurs and Lakers at all.
Though both stars were out due to injuries, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, and Pau Gasol were in Staples Center as the Lakers jumped out to an early 15-point lead over the Spurs, who started off sloppy, but then overcame the deficit in the second half to win the game 91-85. Here’s the rundown of the Spurs’ second season win.
Halftime: Spurs 41, Lakers 42
Who won the half?
Neither team necessarily won the half. The Lakers came out as the aggressors as they built a quick 15-point lead over San Antonio. For San Antonio in the first quarter and early second quarter, they couldn’t make the simplest of layups and were handing the Lakers easy points due to their turnovers on offense.
However, in the second quarter, Spurs head Coach Gregg Popovich asked his team to play more aggressive and the team responded behind Parker, Leonard, Tiago Splitter, and Ginobili. The Spurs’ defense also improved in the second quarter as they held the Lakers to 19 points and scored 25 points.
Who was most impressive by halftime?
Parker was the most consistent player for the Spurs as he scored their first four points during their rough start in the first quarter. He would end the half with 12 points and allowed the offense to run more smoothly in the second quarter as he was patient in running with the offense and allowing his teammates to get comfortable in their game.
Leonard also continued to attack the basket and the glass as he went into half with nine points and eight rebounds. Splitter was energetic throughout the first half and even though he missed a few usually easy layups, he kept playing hard as he went into the half with seven points and eight rebounds.
Ginobili continued to look refreshed and comfortable out on the floor as he was making contested runners while he went into the half with eight points.
Final: Spurs 91, Lakers 85
Player(s) of the game
Parker – When the Spurs needed a basket in the second half to either match the Lakers or push their lead, Parker was the one who delivered mainly with jumpers off of screens. He finished the night shooting 12-of-18 for 24 points, while collecting six assists and grabbing four rebounds.
Ginobili – With the Spurs’ bench almost looking invisible on the floor, Ginobili was the lone bright spot as he stayed in a rhythm throughout the contest and even started the second half. He was responsible for hitting three pointers in big moments and he even was involved in a crucial steal and dunk late in the last two minutes to help San Antonio seal the victory. Ginobili finished the night with 20 points while shooting 50% from the field.
Leonard – Though he didn’t have a major impact offensively in the fourth quarter, Leonard was a major contributor in the third quarter as he helped the Spurs take the lead over the Lakers and maintain it for stretches. In just his second game of the season, he already posted a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Diaw – On Wednesday after the Spurs defeated the Memphis Grizzlies (where Diaw scored 14 points), Popovich joked that he didn’t know if Diaw saw a guru in India over the offseason that helped Diaw become more aggressive in shooting the ball. Coming into the fourth quarter Friday, Diaw had only scored three points. In the fourth he took some 3-pointers that allowed the Spurs to establish their lead as he scored 11 of his 14 points in the final quarter.
Splitter – Though seven points doesn’t seem like too much of an accomplishment, Splitter’s 14 rebounds on the night were a major mark in allowing the Spurs to gain extra possessions, especially due to his seven offensive rebounds. Even in the fourth quarter, while he was the anchor in the paint, the Spurs still allowed just 24 points in the final quarter.
With 1:57 left in the fourth quarter and the Spurs holding onto a slim 82-81 lead, Diaw found a way to get open on the 3-point line and when the ball was given to him, he nailed a 27-foot three pointer to give the Spurs an 85-81 lead. That shot created the separation that never allowed the Lakers to comeback.
The Spurs are now 2-0 on the season through two games. They’ll fly to Portland next where they’ll compete in their first back-to-back sequence of the season as they face the Trailblazers who are 1-1 to start the season on Saturday. Though it’s unlikely Duncan will play, there’s still that slim chance. The Spurs will need a much better effort from their bench Saturday unlike what they received on Friday since their core players all logged major minutes on Friday.