It's tough to judge the Lakers on their performance last night against the Spurs. Pau Gasol is still out, Luke Walton was forced to return for the first time in nearly two months because Adam Morrison is sick and Kobe Bryant was hampered by back spasms and left at the end of the third quarter. With all of those issues it's no wonder the Lakers fell to the Spurs 105-85.
But there's more to a 20-point loss than just injuries. Particularly, their defense was terrible. The Spurs shot 57% from the field and 44% from three-point range. The Spurs created easy shots by moving the ball to the tune of 29 assists on 47 field goals. They got easy lay-ups as the Lakers had trouble switching and got wide open jumpers when the defense didn't close out. I don't know why they're not closing out on shooters. Do they expect them to miss? Manu Ginobili is not going to miss a wide open jumper. Roger Mason Jr. isn't going to miss a wide open jumper. The Lakers needed to close on the shooters and rely on teammates to help if they get beat off the dribble.
And now I'm going to beat the old drum again and talk about the Lakers futile bench play. It wasn't so much that the Lakers bench played poorly, it's more how well the Spurs bench played. The Spurs bench outscored the Lakers reserves 28-4 in the first half and 42-20 in the game. And I'll again write what I've written many times - Shannon Brown is the only consistent player they have on the bench.
Tim Duncan is still amazing. He doesn't look like he has slowed down at all. Andrew Bynum played pretty good one-on-one defense against him but great offense beats great defense any day. Duncan hit 12 of 19 and scored 25 points while pulling down 13 boards and adding four blocks. He still has all the moves he did when he was an MVP.
The Lakers made a run late in the third and into the fourth to narrow a 22-point gap down to just seven. But the Spurs called a timeout, regrouped and took over as they should at home.The Spurs have won 14 of 18 whereas the Lakers dropped their fourth straight road game and there's a good chance they will make it five in a row today in Dallas. Bryant was bothered by back spasms all game and it would be surprising if he's not very limited against the Mavs if he plays at all. The injury was so severe that he didn't even take a shot in the third quarter. Yeah that's right. Kobe Bryant went a full quarter without a shot attempt. He then left the game in the third and limped his way to the locker room. Phil Jackson said he is probable for tonight's game.