By the end of the night, Steve Blake had the analysts on NBA TV calling him “Blamba”. Which should be a decent indication of just how scrappy this game got.
It was ugly basketball, there’s really no way around that. The Lakers struggles in their offensive sets and the Spurs struggled plenty in their own right. But the level of emotion the Lakers played with and seeing so many role players step up gave the evening a distinctive college flavor. Neither team shot over 40 percent from the floor.
Howard showed flashes of his days in Orlando, finishing with 26 points, 17 rebounds and 3 blocks. He also matched up with Tim Duncan to give us one of those classic low-post battles that we rarely get to see anymore.
However Popovich- in his typical brilliant and troll-like fashion – employed the hack-a-Dwight late in the third quarter. Dwight went 4-10 at the line.
Elsewhere, Gasol struggled offensively but still managed to be a presence on the glass pulling in 16 boards. And the fact the Lakers pulled out a win with Gasol going 3-17 for 7 points should be comforting moving forward. He’s currently shooting 60 percent for the month of April, so he should bounce back nicely.
Jamison convincingly provided 15 points off the bench in 20 minutes and the Lakers guards played stifling defense on the perimeter from start to finish.
Following the game, Bryant tweeted “Whew!! Well done my dudes. Well done. UNO MAS #playoffs.”
The Lakers have two days until their final game of the regular season with Houston on Wednesday.