Lakers Bring the Ruckus in San Antonio

Now this is how you start a road trip. This is how you get tuned up for the postseason. By going into the barn of a possible first-round opponent and raining a defensive beatdown on them. The first half tonight was a little ugly, but the second half was undiluted magnificence. The outcome was a rousing 92 to 83 Lakers' victory over what must be a demoralized San Antonio Spurs squad. It's the Lakers' seventh straight win.

The Spurs has this one under control early. They were bombing away out of the gate and built a 10-point second quarter lead behind the scoring of George Hill. With Derek Fisher futilely trying to guard him, Hill lit up for 20 first-half points. The defense stabilized when Phil Jackson replaced Fish with Jordan Farmar and then Shannon Brown, but the Lakers were stalling out on offense. Lamar Odom had a good first half, driving to the hole for 12 points, and Kobe Bryant had 10 at halftime, but turnovers and an inability to hit threes meant the Lakers put up a mere 0.98 points per possession (PPP) through the first two quarters. Only San Antonio's failure to bury more threes - they made 6 of 17 in the first half, and a lot of those misses were easy looks - kept them from blowing the game open.

The inflection point came in the third quarter. The Laker outside shooters finally caught fire: after making only 2 of 8 threes in the first half, they hit 5 of their next 7. A number of those bombs came with Kobe driving and kicking out. He played a brilliantly measured offensive game, putting the ball on the floor, pressuring the Spurs' D and hitting shots when the Lakers needed it. His numbers (24 points on 75% True Shooting, six assists) were great. His on-court generalship was even better.

Meanwhile, the Laker D strangled the San Antonio offense into unconsciousness. Check out the Spurs' PPP by quarter.

Quarter

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

Game

Spurs' Points Per Possession Scored

1.25

1.10

0.82

0.77

0.98

Sweeeeeeet. Two guys in particular deserve kudos: Ron Artest, for slowing down Manu Ginobili in the second half and sewing disruption with five steals, and Pau Gasol, for neutralizing Tim Duncan for the second time this season. Two games now Pau has guarded Duncan straight up, and in those head-to-head matchups the Spurs' big man is averaging 11 points on 36% shooting. Ron this morning was the target of an especially ill-considered column by Bill Plaschke questioning his fit with the team, and Gasol is facing the usual run of "is he too soft?" questions, so for those guys to straight-up dominate on defense tonight was gratifying to behold.

And how about a special pat on the head for Jordan and Shannon? Fish, astoundingly enough, appears to be getting worse - he's made 4 of his last 22 shot attempts - but his two backups came through hugely tonight. They combined to make 5 of 6 threes, which were critical to jump-starting the Laker offense. They also played some good D on Hill, who in the second half scored only one point and missed all three of his shots.

This was pretty much as nice a start to the road trip as we could ask for. The Lakers now have a six-game lead in the West and, with Orlando losing tonight, a 3½ game lead over the Magic. Their playoff positioning is almost locked in. Moreover, the logo streak continues to crush all in its path! The team is now 7-0 since I draped the ol' avatar in purple and gold. Bitchin'.

 

Poss.

TO%

FTA/
FGA

FT%

3FGA/FGA

2PT%

3PT%

EFG

TS%

OReb Rate

DReb Rate

PPP

Lakers

85

15

0.22

59

0.25

44

50

52

53

28

72

1.08

Spurs

85

16

0.24

79

0.24

42

30

43

47

28

72

0.98

Follow Dex on Twitter here.

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