After one of the most successful off-seasons in NBA history, the Los Angeles Lakers settled with the seventh seed in the Western Conference. Many people booked the Lakers in the NBA Finals when the season began, but as time went by injuries and drama hurt the team and its quest for championship number 17.
Even though the Lakers have played very well as of late, the loss of Kobe Bryant puts them as huge underdogs in their first round matchup versus the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs were once again one of the best regular season teams, meaning the short-handed Lakers will have a lot to deal with in this Game 1.
The Los Angeles Lakers are not used to playing in the postseason without Kobe Bryant in the lineup, but that was their reality once Game 1 tipped off. However, the team had Steve Nash back on the court and if there is someone who can step up in Bryant’s absence it’s him.
The Lakers were getting good looks in the opening minutes of the game and Nash did a great job setting up his teammates. Still, Los Angeles had trouble knocking down their shot attempts and faced a 4-2 hole with 9:00 left to play.
I like how Nash is moving so far. Both teams a lil out of rhythm to start
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) April 21, 2013
Tim Duncan was the focal point of the Spurs’ offense and the Lakers had trouble containing him on that end of the court. The Lakers were trying to feed their big men in the post, but they were unable to score over the defense. The game’s tempo was also in San Antonio’s pace and with its athletic back court, the Spurs were able to outrun Los Angeles.
The Lakers were continuing to have trouble scoring the ball despite their size advantage in the paint. The team was shooting a putrid 36 percent from the field and nothing was going right for the team on that end of the court. At the 3:38 mark of the period, the Lakers were down six, 16-10.
After 12 minutes of play, the Lakers were down by nine 24-15 after shooting 7-20 in the quarter.
The Lakers did not do much better in the second quarter as they continued to miss their shots and were unable to put much defensive pressure on the Spurs. Dwight Howard was put back into the game minutes after the period began but he was still have having trouble putting the ball in the basket. With a little over nine minutes left in the half, the Lakers were still facing a double digit deficit.
However, the Lakers finally put together a run and it was sparked by the team’s three main stars. The tempo of the game was slowed down and that played to the Lakers’ benefit. After an 8-0 run by the Lakers, team was down by just four, 28-24, with 7:11 left to play.
LAL is on an 8-0 run, with Howard throwing down an alley-oop from Gasol (4 assists w/his 9 boards) cutting the SAS lead to 4 at 28-24.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) April 21, 2013
The Lakers did a great job getting back into the game, but after the Spurs called a timeout the team regrouped and gained control of the momentum. Los Angeles was playing its style during the 8-0 run, but it allowed the Spurs to speed up the game and open up a nine point lead. The defense was essentially non existent and the Lakers needed a basket in order to remain in striking distance.
At the conclusion of the first half, the Lakers were down by eight, 45-37, after shooting 42 percent from the field. Dwight Howard led the Lakers in scoring with 14 points, but no other player was able to get to double digits.
The Lakers had a slow start to the second half and the Spurs quickly brought their lead up to 12. Tony Parker exploited the Lakers’ defense and his speed was something they could not stop. The tempo of the game increased and once again the Spurs made sure they ran the fast break against the slower Lakers squad. With 9:30 left to play in the quarter, the Lakers were facing a 49-37 hole.
However, the Lakers slowly chipped away at the lead and thanks to some big plays by Nash the team got themselves back into the game. After Nash drilled a three in the corner, Los Angeles cut the deficit down to seven, 50-43, at the 6:45 mark of the period. Not only were the Lakers beginning to hit their shots they were able to close out on shooters and contest shots in the paint.
FWIW, this game is a perfect example of why the Lakers wanted the Spurs. Slow, ugly basketball is easier for LA to match than up-tempo OKC.
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) April 21, 2013
The Lakers players increased their level of intensity on the court and that allowed them to beat up the smaller Spurs team. The Lakers found their offensive rhythm, but the only thing preventing them from taking the lead was their defense. Although Los Angeles was having a fairly easy time scoring for an extended period of time, it could not do much to stop the Spurs from scoring.
After 36 minutes of play, the Lakers were down by 13, 70-57.
The Lakers constantly made small runs over the course of the game and just when it seemed as though they would make a serious push for the lead, the Spurs made some timely shots. Los Angles got itself back into single digits just minutes into the period, but once again the Spurs responded with a run of their own.
As the quarter progressed, the Spurs took control of the game and they slowly eliminated the Lakers’ chances of stealing Game 1. The Lakers played solid basketball for stretches at a time, but they could not do enough to threaten the Spurs. San Antonio had too many options to use and its depth was something the Lakers could not match.
Even though the Lakers made a run earlier in the quarter, the Spurs brought their lead up to 12 with 5:31 left in the game.
When the game started the Lakers took a 2-0 lead. Since then the Spurs have led the entire time.
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) April 21, 2013
The Spurs kept their foot on the gas pedal and asserted their dominance as the game approached its end. The outcomes of the match was determined well before the final buzzer rang but the coaching staff still had its stars in the game despite the large deficit.
After 48 minutes of play, the Lakers walked off the court losers and were just three more losses away from being eliminated from the post season. The Spurs took home a 91-79 win led by 18 points from Parker and Ginobili, along with 17 points and ten rebounds from Duncan.
As for the Lakers, their leading scorer was Howard with 20, followed by Steve Nash who had 16.