The first quarter of the game saw the Spurs get just about anything they wanted offensively. They scored 35 points in the quarter on 58% shooting, including 5-of-8 from downtown. Danny Green led the way with 11 points on a perfect 4-of-4 from the floor (3-of-3 from deep.) In the between-quarter interview Popovich noted that the Spurs were having trouble getting back in transition. That and some nice play from Xavier Henry helped LA put up 29 points in the quarter. That's not what Popovich is looking for.
The Lakers tied the game at 40 after the Spurs let Ryan Kelly go coast-to-coast for an easy layup. I was fairly surprised when Extraneous G did not call a timeout at this point. Henry continued his hot play and halfway through the second quarter the Spurs looked to be in an NBA game with a team that knew it was playing on national television and was tired of being embarrassed. This was followed by four Tony Parker layups. He just took over the game for a stretch, taking the ball the length of the floor and finishing, weaving through the lane and finding space to get to the hole. Just generally doing Tony Parker things.
I was talking to my buddy earlier on Wednesday and I asked him if he thought the team could play better. He said that Tony could still step up his game some, and I think I agree with him. If the Spurs add Parker +10% I'm not sure how anyone is going to beat them in a seven game series.
Well, by the time the second quarter ended the Spurs were up just a single point at 58-57. Kind of like the Jazz game, the Spurs' offense didn't have any problems, but they weren't focused on defense. Their effort was lacking and they let the Lakers shoot 49% on 49 shots. Xavier Henry in particular played a great first half for the Lakers. He had 19 points at the half on 8-of-14 shooting. In fact one of his plays in the half was so good there will be a GIF of it in the GIF Breakdown.
I don't like it when Boris shoots threes. I don't even know how bad his percentage is. - Bill Simmons
Bill Simmons, who I've defended on several occasions, was one of the color guys on ESPN tonight. He just lost me and I'm pretty sure I can't defend him anymore. That above statement is so ignorant, so wrong, I just...What an idiot. Boris is shooting 44.4% from deep, just ahead of Marco for the 7th best percentage in the league. So when the Sportsguy said that with about eight minutes left in the third, despite all of the great things he's said about Duncan, he officially became just another guy who doesn't know what he's talking about, and now he's not even entertaining. It was a strange game for him to call as both fanbases don't like that guy at all.
Halfway through the third the game was again tied, this time at 73 apiece. Continuing the narrative of the game, the Spurs were able to score at will, but they weren't getting any stops either. The Spurs opened up six and seven point leads, but each time, the veteran Spaniard Pau Gasol responded with some great play. In the third he had a couple of and-ones as well as a couple of timely offensive rebounds.
Tiago Splitter threw the ball away on an awful pass as the third quarter drew to a close and the Spurs were lucky that the Lakers were unable to capitalize. The Spurs entered the deciding period up 92-87. The Spurs put up 34 points in the third, but allowed a ridiculous 30 points from LA.
The Spurs continued their offensive clinic and also tightened up on defense in the fourth. The Lakers just couldn't hang with the good guys once the Spurs started to really focus. By the time the game finished the Lakers field goal percentage had dropped to 43% while the Spurs' had risen to 52.6%.
The Spurs didn't play the sharpest game, but they did put up a ton of points and locked the Lakers down in crunch time. It was another good win for the good guys and they improve to a really impressive 51-16 for the season. To make the night even better, the Pacers dropped a game to the Knicks in Phil Jackson's first game as president of the organization. The Spurs are now a game and a half up on the Pacers and two games up on the Thunder for best record, and homecourt throughout the playoffs, in the league. Keep it going boys!
- The Spurs have averaged 113.7 points per game during their 11-game win-streak. That's a whole lot of points. That would be by far the most points per game this season, and the distance between that 113.7 points and the Blazers' league-leading 107.6 ppg is the same distance between the Blazers and the Kings. The offense is humming right now.
- The bench wasn't particularly good tonight. The starters all finished with absurd plus/minus figures, Tiago Splitter had the lowest figure for the starters and only finished with a plus-12. Marco was the only player off of the bench that really played to finish in positive plus/minus with a plus-3.
- Tim Duncan played 32 minutes on Wednesday night. That's 32 more minutes than I would have liked to have seen him play. Not that I don't always enjoy watching the GOATPUFF do his thing, but at some point here he's going to need a little time off. He was good in his time on the court and scored 12 points, grabbed 16 boards, notched six assists and had three steals. He was also a game-high plus-28 during the game.
- Xavier Henry had an excellent first half. Not so much in the second half and Kawhi Leonard had more than a little to do with that. It's great to have a defender that can really make life difficult for the oppenent's hot player.
- Pau Gasol continues to be a very good basketball player. I sure wouldn't mind seeing him in Silver and Black, and that's not something I often think of players that have worn Purple and Gold. There's room in the Foreign Legion for one more.
- Tony Parker had a semi-quiet 25 points on 16 shots. He was great when the team needed even more offense. He also had five of the Spurs' 34 assists. The Wee Frenchman has been relatively quiet the last several games and it was good to see him be aggressive and get what he wanted on the floor.
- Kawhi "Super Bruce" Leonard had a fantastic night. He finished with 22 points on just 12 shots, grabbed 10 boards, had four assists, and tallied two steals and a block without turning the ball over. He's playing great ball right now and the Spurs need him to continue to be excellent if they are to win their fifth title this June. I'm feeling really good about their chances right now, and Whi is a huge part of that. That kid is special.
The Spurs continue their West-Coast trip when they visit the Sacramento Kings on Friday night. This should be another win for the good guys as they continue their easy-ish March schedule. It would be nice if the team can come out early and put the hammer down instead of letting teams stick around.
There will be no rest for San Antonio as they travel to Oakland to take on the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night. Hopefully they extend their win-streak to 13 in the Bay Area and continue to extend their league-best record as the reglar season winds down and the team prepares for the second season.