The Lakers – Spurs rivalry over the years has been filled with future Hall of Famers that have dominated the headlines, but tonight Boris Diaw was the deciding factor in the 4th quarter, as the San Antonio Spurs displayed veteran execution in beating the Lakers 91-85 in Los Angeles.
Boris Diaw’s 11 point 4th quarter including a dagger three under 2 minutes to play led the way. Tony Parker had a game high 24 points. Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard chipped in with 18 and 15 points respectively.
For the Lakers Pau Gasol poured in 20 points and 11 rebounds, but had a relatively quiet 4th quarter. Jodie Meeks scored 14 points and Wesley Johnson had a second consecutive strong effort with 12 points off the bench and some solid defense on Leonard.
The Lakers jumped out to a 15 point lead early in the 2nd quarter 33-18. Xavier Henry had to leave the game with a gash to his forehead with 8:32 remaining in the 2nd quarter and immediately the Spurs began a 23 to 9 run led by Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard that ended the half with the Lakers ahead 42-41.
The second half was largely nip and tuck as both teams continued to have difficulty shooting. The Lakers’ starters outside of Gasol shot 5-27. This early in the season its apparent Mike D’Antoni needs to re-evaluate their rotation. Nick Young, Steve Nash, Shawne Williams, and Steve Blake are slumping, with “shooting guard” Blake misfiring at a 2 for 12 clip tonight. Steve Nash shot 1 for 8 and scored 5 points in 23 uneventful minutes.The Lakers bench has outscored the starters each game this season.
As the Lakers’ frenetic first week of the season has progressed, some early trends have become apparent. The starters are struggling mightily with their shooting and the Lakers bench is clearly the strength of the team. The reserves are also the team’s best defensive unit.
Even though the Lakers let the game slip away, there were some positives from this work in progress team. Wesley Johnson is beginning to grow comfortable with his Shawn Marion like role both offensively and defensively. He showed the potential he might bring as an uber athletic and long stretch 4, capable of hitting the 3, slashing to the rim and rebounding. Jordan Hill continues to give the team instant production and energy on the glass. Jodie Meeks has shown improvement off the dribble and defensively, but the Lakers’ record is most indicative of the lack of production from the starters.
The team finishes the week with a chance to break even with a home game against the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday evening.