After the third quarter, Phil Jackson was asked in a sideline interview what it might take the team to win the game. Phil’s answer? A rabbit’s foot maybe?
Nothing seemed to be working offensively for anyone but Pau Gasol this afternoon, and lightheartedly as Phil spoke, so did his team play. With a chance to lock up the first place in the Western Conference for good, the Lakers, again, played with little purpose, little heart, and with what set them apart last season, very little intensity.
After such a great win against a strong Utah Jazz team two days ago, the Lakers spent Easter Sunday afternoon playing catch-up. Having led by nine points quickly in the first quarter, the Spurs went on a small but effective 7-0 run to cut the lead and eventually took the game over for good.
Tim Duncan did a job on the Lakers today. As difficult as it was for the Spurs to stop Pau Gasol, Tim Duncan was himself, just as unstoppable, looking every bit like the model of steadiness that he is known for. He curled around defenders to get to the hoop, scored on mid-range jumpers, threw out assists when he was double-teamed. He is to the Spurs what Pau is to the Lakers — never flashy, but quietly and oh-so efficiently dominant.
Manu Ginobli, since Tony Parker’s absence, has been the secondary and often primary scorer for San Antonio. He was stifled by Ron Artest in the final quarter of their last meeting, but today, there was no stopping that quick two-step that has provided problems for every one of his defenders. If the Lakers had a second offensive threat today, Manu’s contributions could have been challenged, if not at the very least equaled.
Unfortunately, Kobe Bryant, who collected 22 points on 8-24, suffered another terrible shooting day and no one else on the home team scored enough (not even collectively), to compensate.
Lamar Odom, who had one of his most dominant games against Utah, scored 16 (6-13) and 19 (8-18) respectively in the previous two wins against San Antonio. Today he led the game in rebounds, with 13, but only attempted eight shots to collect nine points. For someone who, according to Coach Popovich himself, poses problems for San Antonio (and every other team in the league), Lamar should have been more aggressive offensively with Pau, especially with Kobe not shooting well.