Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lakers-Spurs Game 4: On the Near Impossibility of Killing Cockroaches

Tonight in San Antonio, the Lakers won despite a nearly historic choke job in the last minute. It's 3-1 Lake Show, and the defending champions are officially on life support after a 93-91 home loss.

> The sports world will look at nothing but the last play, where Derek Fisher joined the parachute club on Brent Barry on a 3. Fisher got contact on Barry, who then missed the 3 at the buzzer. If the call is made, it's 3 free throws, where Barry, a good shooter, could have won it at the line, or at the very least, forced overtime. Barry didn't sell the contact enough, because he's not a star that knows how to do that, but still, it was a foul.

Spurs Fan will scream long and hard about the non-call. He's right. It was a foul. And that "Ha Ha!" Nelson Muntz laughter you hear is coming from Phoenix... (Oh, and Spurs Fan? You were outplayed all night, and you were unconscionably lucky to have been in the position to win at the buzzer. So stop crying.)

> The Spurs were lucky not to be buried at the half -- and, you could argue, most of the game. They were destroyed on the offensive boards, with the Laker bigs -- especially Radmanovic and Walton, surprisingly -- punishing Ginobili repeatedly. You wonder why more teams don't attack the Argentinian on defense, especially given that the Spurs are not a great shot-blocking team.

> It really is striking, how much more athletic the Lakers are. When the game gets up and down, they routinely pull away from pursuers, especially when it comes to the bigs. That's true of just about every team they play, but it's especially true against the older and slower Spurs.

> When Gasol and Odom are passing well, it really is remarkable to watch. If they can stay healthy and develop, they could be the best passing big man tandem since Divac and Webber for the turn of the century Kings.

> If Tim Duncan is slipping -- and until the Spurs are dead and buried, that is purely theoretical -- it's most notable on his bank shots. That used to be absolutely automatic, but it isn't anymore, at least not this year, and this series.

> The Lakers really have cornered the market on goofy but effective white guys. When they run Vujacic, Radmanovic, Walton and Gasol. It's positively Celtics-esque.

> With 3:30 left in the third, the Spurs could have taken the lead on a wide open Barry 3. He missed it, Manu didn't get back, and it led to Kobe adding to the highlight reel for a new Lakers lead.

In every tight game, there are small and quick turns that further the plot, and in this game, that was significant -- as it was one of a half dozen opportunities to take the lead that the Spurs didn't capitalize on. They lost this game at the buzzer, but they also lost it on many occasions before that.

> Similarly, after a Vujacic 4-point play late in the third, Kobe was able to get bench time... and after two Duncan misses where he looked visibly uncomfortable when faced by Gasol, it didn't cost them. The Spurs simply have to work harder than the Lakers in this series, and since they're older and have had a harder road to get here, that starts to make for some easy math.

> In the fourth, the Lakers had a fresh Kobe. The Spurs had tired legs, and that, combined with a suddenly effective Lamar Odom, got the Lakers the lead they almost gagged.

> Brent Barry picked an amazing time to have the game of his life. The 36-year-old bench guard had five three pointers and should have been on the line to win it at the end. The Spurs needed all of it, because Manu was absolutely, positively horrible.

> It really is a shame that the only thing that anyone will remember about this one is the finish... but it's also kind of great, in that it's going to give the Spurs the oomph they need to make Game Five a war, rather than a coronation. Besides, Popovich is too good of a coach for this to be a runway, and the Laker team that played the last two minutes of this game could keep anyone close. I think LA closes it, but it'll be a good game... and if the Spurs can somehow get a good game out of Ginobili, it's not like the Spurs can't prolong this. Either way, it could be the best game we see for the rest of the year, and it tips off in 48 hours.

1 comment:

John said...

Oh No!!! My worst fear when this series started has now become a reality.

I had my fair share of concern on whether Spurs old bodies were willing to give in for another tough series.

Manu was extremely aweful and I feel very sorry for him that he can't do much to avoid this defeat.

It's not over yet and almost looks like it, unless as true Champions they can bounce back from this.

I will question the team morale at the moment. After all they did had Game 1 in their hands and they lost it!!!

We'll just have to see how.

Anyway, your thought on the game....

Ads In This Size Rule