Yes, the Lakers lost by 16 tonight, but this motley collection of mostly castoffs and role players took advantage of turnovers and San Antonio’s cold 2nd quarter shooting to keep close to arguably the league’s best team for 3 quarters, forcing Gregg Popovich to play his Big Three of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker almost as many minutes in the first half as they did during the entirety of Friday’s blowout. In the end, however, San Antonio’s superior execution and, frankly, talent prevailed over the course of the 4th quarter.
This has been touched on a lot at this site over the last couple of weeks especially, but as the 48th pick in a very weak draft, Ryan Kelly has no business playing as well as he did tonight. After a lackluster showing in San Antonio last Friday, the Duke product acquitted himself much better tonight, posting 14 points on 9 shots along with 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block while showing flashes of the potential that made him such an intriguing pick in the first place, such as one coast to coast drive for a layup after a weak-side block in the second quarter. In another example of the current front office regime finding value in the second round of the draft, Robert Sacre had a mostly strong outing tonight, with 7 points on 3-7 shooting, 11 rebounds, and one block and steal each. Yes, he took a few bad shots in the 4th quarter tonight, missing on the midrange jumper that he will need to develop in order to stick in the league, but he more importantly showed good lateral foot-speed while containing Spurs guards on the pick and roll for a good number of the times they targeted him with the action.
In the first half, it was the Xavier Henry show, with the recently returned wing scoring 19 points on 14 shots almost entirely through getting into the paint and finishing around the rim. Things began to regress for X in the second half though, as he finished the game with 24 points on 22 shots, starting the second half 0-7 before finally making a basket once the game was out of reach. Also demonstrating value tonight for the Lakers was Kent Bazemore; who despite some questionable shot selection that would most likely not take place on a team with more talent, scored 13 points on 5 for 11 shooting with 3 threes. For a guy who was not even playing for the Golden State Warriors, he has continually demonstrated that he would be worth taking a flyer on for next year. Shoutout to Pau Gasol, the highest paid active Laker by far, who showed a ton of competitive fire tonight for this lottery bound squad. He kept the Lakers in the game in the 3rd quarter almost single handedly, scoring 13 in the period, and finishing the game with 22 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 blocks and a steal.
In the end, it was Spurs speedster Tony Parker who tore the Lakers' defense to tatters tonight, especially in the 4th quarter, through dribble penetration and either finishing in traffic or kicking out to shooters on the perimeter, notably a mostly cold tonight Marco Belinelli, who had both of his three pointers in the final frame. Honorable mention to starter Danny Green, who continued to show that he loves to light up the Lakers almost as much as he loves his pet snakes, dropping 16 points on 6 of 8 shooting with 3 three pointers.