6:30 p.m. PDT
If the Lakers want to beat the team with the regular season's third-best record, they'll need to do much better than 79 points and 18 turnovers.
As we've written about several times in the past few days, the Lakers simply cannot afford to have another low scoring, high turnover affair that led to a 91-79 loss on Sunday afternoon's Game 1. Even though the Lakers held their opponents to a paltry 37% FG shooting, with just 32% from the arc (where they've shot over 37% all year) and out-rebounded them 44-43, the Spurs still put up 12 extra shots up thanks to 18 LA turnovers. Moreover, the Show couldn't provide any spacing for their monstrous front line, hitting just 3 three-pointers and 10 of 35 mid-range shots. Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard were still beasts, going 15 for 28, but no one else on the team came even close to 50% shooting, including a noticeably hobbled Steve Nash, who returned after a three week absence with 16 points on 6 for 15 shooting. Without Kobe Bryant, it's been a predictable slog night after night to get to even 85 points, with the team playing through the post and unable to run with its two floor leaders not pushing the ball.
On the bright side, the Lakers defense was solid and succeeded in slowing down every Spur not named Emanuel David Ginobili. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker looked especially bothered by the paint presence of Howard and Gasol, shooting 14 for 36 on contested, difficult shots. From there, the Lakers cleaned up the boards, but not as much as you'd expect from the team that ranked 4th in total rebounds versus the Spurs who ranked 21st. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported today that F/C Jordan Hill will be available tonight about a month early from hip surgery, so perhaps his presence will help the Lakers dominate the rebounding battle than simply keep it even.
The two keys for the Lakers, if the defense can hold, are controlling turnovers and hitting outside jumpers. As successful as Howard and Gasol were on the inside, they must be careful not to get stripped by a crafty San Antonio interior defense that caused 10 turnovers from the two starting bigs. The wing players were much more careful than usual, but brain farts like Steve Blake turning the ball over 40 feet from the hoop aren't going to bode well in such a tightly contested, low scoring game. Offensively, the Lakers got many open looks Sunday from a Spurs D that packed the paint consistently and gambled on missed perimeter shots from a streaky group of role players (credit Drew Garrison on a great video breakdown piece). If LA simply starts hitting shots, Sunday could have been an act of larceny for the Show. Jodie Meeks, Steven Nash and Steve Blake must keep San Antonio's defense honest if they have any hope to take this game going back to Los Angeles.
As lopsided as the final score looked on Sunday, the Lakers had a chance to steal one. They need to be tighter and smarter, with the same efficient, clever defense. They can even up this series tonight with some consistency, but in 2012-2013, that word might not exist in the Los Angeles lexicon.
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