LA Lakers comeback, strike Spurs first
For the 1st half and the first part of the 3rd quarter, the San Antonio Spurs looked to have no hang over from their night that they had to spend in the New Orleans airport. But it just came out in the latter parts of the 2nd half.
Tim Duncan was pushing Pau Gasol around all night long to the tune of 30 points 18 rebounds 4 blocks 2 steals. Timmy came to play and Tony Parker was at least average, but the rest of the Spurs supporting cast really let them down by missing shots. Michael Finley was 0-5 shooting threes and Manu Ginobili really struggled and looked too tired to create. But he was also harassed going to the basket by the long arms of Gasol and Odom. Ginobili relies on drawing contact as he is getting to the rim but in this game it just ended up in weak shot attempts instead of fouls. Part of this was Manu's fault as he looked fatigued most of the game, but this brings us to another point. It would be an understatement to say that the Lakers got away with a mugging but on the road (especially Los Angeles in the playoffs) the Spurs certainly have come to accept it goes with the territory. If you saw the 1999-00 Conference Finals against the Blazers or 02-03 against the Kings then you know.
After a longer layoff, the Los Angeles Lakers looked a little lost on offense in the 1st half, and their defense was soft. Kobe Bryant scored 2 points in the 1st half. But then the middle of the 3rd quarter came with the Spurs up by 20, and the Lakers began a comeback that the Spurs were never able to quell. And it was led mostly by the MVP Kobe Bryant who had 25 points in the 2nd half. When he was not scoring he was setting up Gasol for feeds.
Despite the modest numbers, the Lakers were had a +25 advantage with Sasha Vujacic in the game. He played tight defense and made a few nice three pointers, and got to the line. His quality bench play made up for a 1 / 9 night shooting from Derek Fisher. Lamar Odom also struggled with 8 points on 3 / 12 shooting, not so much with jumpers like Fisher but Odom as unable to finish in the paint.
If the rest of the series is as classic as this game 1 comeback, we are in for another wild ride in the West. Considering the circumstances the Lakers are lucky to pull away with that one, and the Spurs are sure to want revenge for that bitter loss.