The Lakers have some talented young players, but they're struggling through a losing season as they sacrifice developing players to provide a platform for Kobe Bryant's seemingly interminable farewell tour. The Spurs will meet the Lakers twice more this year, so there will be more opportunities to say goodbye. The Spurs were almost at full strength tonight against the Lakers, only missing who LaMarcus Aldridge, who was out with back spasms.
Given the talent chasm between the two teams, it seemed apparent to most observers that it would be an easy night for the Silver and Black, and the fans would be treated to a similar sort of game that the Spurs played the previous night -- they blew out the Suns by 28 points. For the most part, it was, but the Lakers kept the game close for much of the second and third quarters, but heroics from Manu Ginobili kept the Spurs margin at a relatively comfortable level. In the final quarter, the Spurs turned it on, ran the lead to up to 25 with 7 minutes left. The Lakers had a little run for the last few moments to cut into the margin, but never got close enough to have a reasonable chance of winning the game.
The first quarter started out well for the Lakers with a couple of baskets for Roy Hibbert, but Danny Green answered with a deep three-point shot. The Spurs didn't play with much energy on defense, and the Lakers were able to hit shots from deep, but so did the Spurs, and they built a 31-22 lead at the end of the first.
Manu Ginobili brought his A (for Argentina) game for the second quarter, but the rest of the Spurs lacked energy for most of the quarter as the teams traded baskets for most of the quarter, until Jordan Clarkson hit a prayer three as the shot clock was running out with 3:18 left to bring the Lakers to within 5 at 48-43.
The Spurs woke out of their doldrums a bit, and scored the last 8 of the second quarter to push the lead to 56-43.
J.R. Wilco (the editor here at PTR) said something to me the other day that made me think. As Spurs fans, we've become a little spoiled. We just expect the Spurs to blow out lesser teams without ever executing at less than an elite level during a game. When the Spurs beat a team by 28, there's just a little disappointment it wasn't 30 plus.
But the Lakers, who, let's face it, don't have nearly the talent on the floor as the Spurs do, still have pride and play hard. The Lakers cut the lead to six halfway through the quarter behind solid play from Lou Williams and Jordan Clarkson. Even Kobe Bryant hit a three. But Kawhi and Tony kept up their end for the Spurs and Manu hit a dagger three with nine seconds left in the third to give the Spurs a 87-71 lead at the end of the third.
The Spurs got down to work in the fourth, and Rasual Butler showed why he's on the team with scoring and defense. Danny Green and Patty Mills hit three-point shots and Jonathan Simmons dunked as the Spurs raced out to a 99-74 lead with 7 minutes left. The Lakers outscored the Spurs over the last several minutes, giving Gregg Popovich something to talk about for the next couple of days to his team, but only ended up making the score look a little more respectable in the end.
- After only 6 minutes and zero points in last night's game against the Suns, Manu Ginobili was really fresh and showed his ability to misdirect defenders with ball fakes and fancy footwork. Here's a hint: he always goes left. He was the leading scorer for the Spurs with 20.
- Green watch: he hit a three-point shot, missed two, then hit two from deep. 3-5 in the first half and 4-8 in the game After a slow start this year, he appears to be rounding into form. I'm not worried about Danny.
- I have a running joke in the recaps that the Spurs always win when they outscore their opponents in each quarter of the game. It's amazing how often that happens. But seriously, it's a measure of how consistently great that the Spurs are. The Spurs are almost impossible to outscore in for 12 minutes. If they ever have a letdown, it's over quickly. But the Spurs let me down, they let the Lakers outscore them in the fourth tonight.
A little tune written by Mel Tillis about moving on with your life.
What's next for the Spurs?
The Spurs have won 13 consecutive games and their record is now 38-6, second place in the Western Conference. The Spurs travel to Oakland for a game against the Golden State Warriors. Monday, January 25 at 9:30 PM Spurs time. The matchup to watch will be All Star starter Kawhi Leonard vs. backup Draymond Green, who was also the runner-up to Kawhi in last year's Defensive Player of the Year balloting.
Monday's game is probably going to be the most hyped game of the season so far in the NBA, and deservedly so. Both teams are winning at a historic rate, and fans are hoping to see a great game between two great teams playing at their peak. Honestly, the prospect has me a little anxious. Part of me wonders if there's any way that it can live up to the build up. After all, it's just a regular season game, and you never know when Pop is going to do something weird. I can't hardly wait to see what's going to happen.