Without Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant, the Lakers still managed to take care of the Spurs last night, 101-89. The Lakers looked tentative early and allowed Tony Parker to get to the rim at ease. But after giving up 34 points in the first quarter, they held the Spurs to just 55 over the final three.
The Spurs are looking old. They are one of the few teams that can actually make the Lakers look quick. Although, with Bynum and Bryant out the Lakers are a much quicker team. They replace Bynum with Odom and when Bryant is out they have either Jordan Farmar or Shannon Brown on the court. Both Farmar and Brown look to push the ball much more than Derek Fisher. The Lakers outscored the Spurs 14-3 on fastbreak points. Aside from fastbreak points they were also able to get to the rim with Farmar slashing in for a few layups and a couple trips to the line.
Not only are the Spurs old but their frontcourt isn't very imposing. Tim Duncan is having a great year on offense and is still a fairly good defender but he doesn't have much help. DeJuan Blair is big but he's not tall. At 6'7 he's not going to be able to contend with the likes of Gasol or Bynum (or even Odom for that matter). At 35 years old, Antonio McDyess can't be relied on to be a great defensive stopper either. It's no wonder the Lakers' frontcourt dominated the Spurs even without Bynum. Odom had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Artest had 18 points and five boards and Gasol led the way with 21 points, 19 rebounds, eight assists and five blocks. Adding that all up, the Lakers starting frontcourt had 55 points and 34 rebounds compared to 29 points and 29 rebounds for the Spurs.
Clearly Gasol had a monster game but he actually didn't have a great night shooting. He hit eight of 20 shots but missed at least five easy ones. He should've had over 30 points and in the post game interview he sounded a bit disappointed in his night on offense.
The loss dropped the Spurs to 10-11 on the road this season. They are now tied for seventh place in the West and just a half game up on the eighth spot and 20 of their final 32 games are on the road. They have been the best road team over the last decade and usually bond during the rodeo road trip that they are currently in the middle of. They might have to make a deal before the deadline to be a contender this season.The Lakers travel to play the Jazz Wednesday in their last game before the All-Star break. Bynum has already been ruled out and they will re-evaluate Bryant to see if he will go. I'd imagine they will sit him so he can have a full week off and then play sparingly in the All-Star game. Without those two it's going to be a tough game for the Lakers to win. The Jazz are 22-6 at home and have won 12 of their last 13.