After falling 91-79 in Game 1 of their Round 1 series against San Antonio, the Lakers gathered for a Monday practice at Texas Military Institute, intent upon making adjustments that might help lead to an improved all-around effort in Wednesday’s Game 2.
Searching for a split before returning home to Los Angeles, the Lakers know that they most need to cut down on the kinds of mistakes they made that led to a far-too-high 18 turnovers – the Spurs had just nine – in a statistic that was the major difference between winning and losing.
“I wasn’t happy with the 18 turnovers we had,” said Mike D’Antoni after the game. “That is, to me, probably the difference in the game … some of that was turning down shots that were open and trying to force it in a little bit too much. But we have to have the balance, and have to clean some things up to try and get the ball inside a little bit easier.”
Indeed, 10 of the team’s 18 miscues came from big men Pau Gasol (six) and Dwight Howard (four), as the Spurs constantly clogged the paint and sent multiple bodies at the two Laker bigs.
It's more complicated for LAL than just pounding the ball inside. Gasol said they need better movement before the entry pass.
After Monday’s practice, Steve Blake said the Lakers have to focus on moving the ball, and moving bodies before putting the ball inside.
“There were a few times where we forced things that caused turnovers,” said Blake, who had three miscues. “A couple times I went to make a pass and I just lost it. I’m pretty sure that happened to a couple of guys. We will clean it up and we will be ready for the next game.”
While the offense struggled to 41.1 percent shooting, the defense was very strong, limiting the Spurs to just 37.6 percent from the field. But when an opponent gets to take 12 more shots (85 to 73) and one more free throw (25 to 24, the Spurs plus four in makes) the percentages matter less.
Aside from the extra possessions created off turnovers, San Antonio effectively limited L.A. from gathering misses, allowing only six offensive boards and grabbing eight of their own. Nonetheless, Gregg Popovich’s system of movement and cuts was held pretty well in check by Dwight Howard and Co.
Blake did an excellent job on one of the NBA’s toughest covers in point guard Tony Parker, who made just 8 of 21 shots towards his 18 points. And Steve Nash, never known for his defense, battled hard all night despite continued limitations in his back/hip/hamstring to be in the right places. Danny Green scored only six points, Nash taking care not to afford open looks.
On the other end, Nash – who admittedly does not feel like himself – scored 16 points on 6 of 15 field goals. He was sore after the game, as expected, but made it through Monday’s practice.
“It’s not great, it’s not going to be great but I (have) to worry about what I can do,” he told reporters inquiring about his condition.
Nash is determined to help however he can, and Mike D’Antoni certainly needs his ability to make plays and shoot against a Spurs team eager to load up on the bigs inside. That’s due in part to the absence of offensive machine Kobe Bryant, watching the games back in his Orange County home as he recovers from Achilles surgery. Some of Bryant’s minutes are being taken up by Jodie Meeks, who became the latest Lakers to make the injury report as he sprained his left ankle in the third quarter.
Meeks did not practice on Monday in favor of getting treatment, but he told us he will play on Wednesday.
D'Antoni said that, yes, LAL have become an inside-outside team now; they just have to feature the best ways to get good looks inside.
Yes. But in order to be an effective inside out team, the outside need to move the ball better and actually SCORE when they get their wide open shots.
But still, I like that we'll be inside out moving forward, but like the coach said, like Blake said and like Gasol said, we need to set up ball movement to open up the inside more and take advantage of our open shots to stop the Spurs from collapsing.