Spurs Dismanlte Lakers
Tuesday night, the Spurs went into the Staples Center to face a Laker team that had embarrassed them at home. The San Antonio Spurs came into the game with a chip on their shoulder and found themselves in the middle of a slobber-knocker earlier on in the first quarter, trading basket for basket with the Lakers, keeping up with the Lakers and taking advantage of every opportunity made. The Spurs utilized an explosive second quarter to bury the Lakers, capitalizing on their five straight turnovers to bury the Kobe Bryant-less Lakers, taking a lead, running with it and never looking back.
The main, possibly obvious reason is that the Spurs started 6 foot tall, nearly 7, Tiago Splitter, the height equivalent to Tim Duncan. Bringing back memories of the Twin Towers era of the Duncan-Robinson duo that captured two NBA Championships in 1999, and in 2003, and the nearly unstoppable force that was the dynamic duo of Duncan and Robinson.
Despite the good effort and input from the, not as tall, yet just as talented DeJuan Blair, Splitter has the height advantage and, in my opinion, is better than Blair. The lack of dominate size is still, semi the Achilles heel of the San Antonio Spurs, but with the addition of Stephen Jackson as a starter, and Boris Diaw to come off the bench, the Spurs have added size and power to get all the pieces to the puzzle that is the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
The Spurs are currently playing musical chairs with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the top seed in the Western Conference and currently, on their current four game winning streak, the Spurs have taken over the top, by having one less loss than Oklahoma City, giving the Spurs an edge in just .012 percentage points. The top seed is not the priority for the Spurs, the priority is getting into the playoffs intact, and the Spurs have six games left on this sixty-six game lockout shortened schedule.
I am absolutely giddy about the Spurs playing basketball now, and believe that they are the best TEAM in the NBA, the fact that they have seemingly unlimited depth and an amazing bench, even and making the bench better by having Manu Ginobili and DeJuan Blair coming off the bench; Ginobili is the sixth man of the year for the Spurs, being the spark plug for the Spurs’ second unit. The best second unit in the league, the Spurs’ bench players could be star, franchise players anywhere in the league, none of the Spurs are as strong as all of the Spurs.
The Lakers game showcased the Spurs’ power to build momentum, fire on all cylinders and put away a team, 45 bench points, capitalize on momentum led by Tony Parker who, in the second quarter, could not miss a shot and played out of his mind. The showed that they are able to contain the player who embarrassed them in the last meeting, a trait that will be useful in the playoffs as there is hardly any room for error and the Spurs are a playoff team. Andrew Bynum reeled in 30 rebounds on the Spurs, and this time around, the Spurs kept him in check as they were equal in the amount of rebounds and only allowed the Lakers to snag 2 more offensive rebounds than they did.
This was one of the best Spurs games in a long while as far as team work and unity is concerned, and also, they flexed their muscles in making teams falter and capitalizing on the teams’ faults. In their explosive second quarter, the Spurs went on an 18-0 run, scoring most of them points on Laker errors and ultimately sealed the fate for the Lakers. While they fly under the radar, the Spurs are the team to beat in the Western Conference, no matter what the seeding ends up being, and the Spurs have beaten Oklahoma City twice out of the three times they have faced them, beating them once at home, once on the road and the lone loss is in Oklahoma City.
The Spurs will likely coast to the rematch with the Lakers this Friday, facing the Sacramento Kings in Sacramento, finishing up their West Coast road trip, and return home to face the Lakers, Cleveland, and Portland. then go to Phoenix, and finish off the season in Oakland against Golden State.
– Richard Perez