I'll keep the Opening Hash short and sweet - Manu Ginobili and Matt Bonner are crushing the Los Angeles Lakers bench.
Through two games, the Spurs veteran duo has out performed the entire Lakers bench in nearly every column of the stat sheet. Ginobili has 8 more assists and 2 more made three-pointers than the Lakers' bench and is only 3 back in both points and rebounds.
The Lakers bench has been a sore spot for the franchise for much of the past two seasons and, with several key players either missing or limping, will continue to assist in the downfall of the Gold and Purple's chaos-filled 2012-2013 season.
Standard Pre-Game Pop Quote
He's a mentally unique individual in that he's able to sustain a year-round workout regiment both physically and in-take wise. He has unbelievable feeling of responsibility for his place in the program and he wants to sustain that performance that he brings night after night. And when doesn't feel like he can, he'll stop. Might be in the middle of the game - He'll walk off the court saying 'I can't hold my weight anymore, I'm done.' He'll walk and I'll be right behind him.
-Popovich on the greatness that is Tim Duncan.
- Cory Joseph did some great work attacking the rim off high screens. Assistant coach Chip Engelland was obviously pleased with the effort and work Cory put in. Much to the ire of Engelland, Joseph was more carefree with his practices in the past.
- Coach Engelland was emphasizing "no hesitation" towards the basket as soon as Cory caught the ball.
- Several of the assistant coaches for Los Angeles were arguing (playfully) over who was the best pure shooter to ever play in the league. Ray Allen eventually won out as the pick.
- Antawn Jamison spent nearly all of his workout just shooting from mid-range and beyond the arc. Jamison finished up by setting high screens for Andrew Goudelock.
- When shooting, Jamison's feet kept alternating from flat-footed to launching straight from the ball of his feet. I haven't figured out why yet.
- Danny Green worked in some transition three-pointers before rotating over to the corner for his standard baseline drills.
- When Kawhi Leonard misses a jumper, regardless of whether the shot is short or long, it's typically too far to the left.
- Chip Engelland also had Kawhi Leonard working on quick releases from the corner - something that Kawhi has been second-guessing himself on.
- Boris Diaw got a short workout prior to the game as well. Diaw just moved around the court and put up jumpers.
- Nearly all of Metta World Peace's shots were from 20-25 feet out.
- Tracy McGrady worked on pull-up jumpers of a variety of high screen plays. Tracy is still working on getting his legs back and was obviously winded at the end of the workout.
- Steve Nash went 39 of 54 from three-point range and appeared to be feeling out his limits on his hip/leg.
- This has to be an optical illusion - Pau Gasol appears to lift straight up off the middle of his feet when shooting jumpers.
Tim Duncan, B.A.M.F. - USA TODAY Sports
The Essential Hash
I pin-pointed Dwight Howard's mental deficiencies (see "Game Runt") as the primary factor in murdering the Los Angeles Lakers' chances at stealing Game Two but I would be remiss if I didn't point at handful of Spurs offensive outbursts that kept the mojo on the Spurs' side of things.
First Quarter: A tie game and with roughly two minutes remaining, Manu Ginobili led the Spurs on a 10-3 run to give the Spurs a 28-23 advantage and their biggest lead so far in the game. Manu scored five points on a pull-up mid-range jumper and a jab-step three-pointer. Ginobili was also responsible for the other half of the 10 points with an assist to Leonard into the pain and a beautiful drive-and kick out to Gary Neal beyond the arc.
Second Quarter: Tied again with just under three minutes remaining in the quarter, the San Antonio Spurs made all five of their final shots (including three from deep) to close out the first half on a 13-5 run. This time, the Spurs were led by Matt Bonner's 5 points and a steal that eventually led to a Kawhi Leonard fast break dunk. Once again, the Spurs had their highest lead of the game going into the next quarter.
Third Quarter: San Antonio started the second half strong behind Tony Parker's mid-range shot off a screen from Tim Duncan and Steve Nash turnover that led to Tiago Splitter fast break layup. Parker hit a free throw after Dwight Howard was handed a technical for getting mouthy with an official over a just-received loose ball foul. It was a short 5-0 run but it was the kindling that got Tony Parker's fire roaring in the second half (see "Game Boss").
Fourth Quarter: The first half of the final quarter was a 13-6 San Antonio advantage punctuated with a 7-0 run in roughly a 90 second span. The Lakers committed four turnovers in the 13-6 run and struggled to score (3-8 FG) through the Spurs incredibly active defense. With six minutes remaining in the game, the Spurs held a 17 point advantage.
I originally had Matt Bonner with this title but when you look at the box score for the second half alone, it's easy to see why the award rightly belongs to Tony Parker. After going 1 for 6 from the floor and being forced to produce outside the paint (only one attempt inside) in the first half, Parker exploded for 24 points on 8 of 14 field goals along with 8 trips to free throw line. Tony's aggression in the second half distanced the Spurs from a lingering Lakers squad and essentially displayed how the remainder of this series will play out if Parker keeps building on his confidence.
I could have given this honor to several other Los Angelles players but this was supposed to be a game that Dwight Howard came out and dominate, to make a statement, and turn the tide against San Antonio. Instead, Dwight lost his cool, got into foul trouble, and got out-worked by a three-point specialist who comes off the bench. Everything you need to know about Dwight Howard happened in the middle of the second quarter. Dwight Howard began crowing at everyone around him after he stuffed a pass attempt immediately after blocking a Tony Parker jumper. Thirty seconds later, Howard found himself of Tim Duncan facing up just outside the far elbow. Duncan looked at Howard for a second and then proceeded to sink an easy jumper over the Lakers center. After that, Dwight essentially retreated into the space in-between his ears - 9 points, 7 rebounds, 5 turnovers, and 4 personal fouls (including a technical) in the following 30 minutes after the Tim Duncan stare down. And 3 of those boards came when the game was well over.
By the Numbers
- +29 - Matt Bonner's final number in the +/- column.
- 32 - Bench points from the San Antonio Spurs.
- 17 - Total number of turnovers by San Antonio in Games One and Two.
- 8 - The number of made baskets by Kawhi Leonard last night. Kawhi only had 8 attempts in Game One.
- 4:04 - The amount of minutes and seconds the Los Angeles Lakers have held a lead in this playoff series.
- 29.7 - The three-point percentage of the Los Angeles Lakers in this playoff series (11-37).
- 27.2 - Danny Green's shooting percentage through two games (3-11).
- 2 - Number of rebounds grabbed by Antawn Jamison in roughly 36 minutes of play this series.
- 5 - Number of rebounds grabbed by Cory Joseph in in roughly 24 minutes of play this series.
Bird is the Word
Just like last game, you don't even notice when Blair/Bonner is in the game because Manu is suddenly everywhere.— Fred (@DartFred) April 25, 2013
Haven't seen that alley-oop play since Richard Jefferson was here. And this one actually worked!— Jeff McDonald (@JMcDonald_SAEN) April 25, 2013
Mike D'Antoni: "They're not gonna screwup." #Inspiring— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballSource) April 25, 2013
This means bad. RT @talkhoops: DeJuan Blair is interesting on defense.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) April 25, 2013
Patented Popovic "you've disappointed me" time out.— netw3rk (@netw3rk) April 25, 2013
Cory Joseph tackles Steve Nash behind the line of scrimmage for a 5-yard loss. - USA TODAY Sports
- Manu Ginobili looked fantastic last night and put his stamp on the game early. The rest of the team followed his lead.
- Steve Blake left the floor limping in the fourth quarter, favoring his right hamstring.
- Cory Joseph sure doesn't look like he's never played a NBA playoff series before. Joseph's defense, hustle (just look at the above photo), and rebounding has been a major asset off the bench. Cory has been matched up against Antwan Jamison in both games - a man who has a six inch height advantage and outweighs Joseph by roughly fifty pounds. Cory has bossed Jamison around in both games.
- For the most part, the Spurs were getting the same open looks as they were getting in game one. Los Angeles did up their hustle on the defensive rotations and increased their pressure at the half court.
- The Spurs want to send a second defensive presence to help in the paint but Danny Green standing in the block with his back turned to his man (who is sitting in the corner) is not a great idea.
- The outlet pass from Manu Ginobili (after Matt Bonner swatted the Lakers bounce pass to him) to Kawhi Leonard at the end of the first halfwas fantastic. It was a 60 foot arc over the top of almost everyone and it caught Kawhi right in stride for a dunk.
- I had a great view from the AT&T Center's fan zone but the drunks sitting five feet behind me got a little tiring. For whatever reason, they thought I covered the Lakers.
- The Tony Parker-Kawhi Leonard alley-oop was the same play the Spurs ran for Richard Jefferson the past few seasons.
- I love DeJuan Blair's energy but he just has no place in a game that features the likes of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. At one point, Gasol reached over and behind Blair's head for an offensive board.
- Tiago Splitter did a good job defending but he was getting manhandled early when the officials were letting hard contact go in the first half. The foul tenancies took a turn after the break.
Going into the Staples Center, the Spurs Need to...
...keep their heads screwed on. With a 2-0 lead, the first game in enemy territory is going to be a hard fought battle. Los Angeles showed that they want to get physical and get nasty down in the paint and they have two dangerous big men who are more than capable of dominating a game from start to finish. Steve Nash obviously isn't himself and Steve Blake's status is unknown now so the crux of the game will be unraveled through the front courts of both teams. Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter, Matt Bonner, and Kawhi Leonard will need to come with same intensity they put out in the first two games of the season.
Side note: It's a guarantee that Kobe Bryant will be out on the floor, crutches and all, trying to will his teammates to a win. And the national broadcast will just eat. It. Up.