The Spurs, this season, have been accused of being too old, past their prime, at times lost, and unable to gel with all their new players. They have struggled, it’s certainly no secret, but there has always been an air of confidence about them, from the coach to last player on the rotation, that keeps them in the rear view mirror of veteran teams who know them all too well — like the Lakers.
Kobe said in an interview that the Lakers and Spurs have such a rich history together that they could run each other’s plays, and he’s right. That’s why when it comes to this Western Conference rivalry, it is never about one marquee player against another, Kobe vs. Manu, Duncan vs. Gasol. When it comes to Los Angeles vs. San Antonio, it’s always Popovich vs. Jackson and tonight the advantage was Phil’s.
Since Parker’s absence, Manu Ginobli and 2nd year player George Hill, have taken on the reigns on this Spurs team and have done it convincingly. The Lakers were at the losing end of this starting backcourt’s success in the first half when George Hill went off for 20 points and, along with Ginobli, never saw a three-pointer he couldn’t hit. The Spurs hit 6-17 from downtown in the first half, to the Lakers’ 2-8.
There was no flow or rhythm to the Lakers’ movement in the first half. Lamar, however, exercised his right to be the unguarded one; a player who, in their last meeting, baffled Coach Popovich into stating in a sideline interview that they needed to figure out what to do with him. Lamar ended the first half by grabbing the ball straight from an air born Richard Jefferson and ran down for a right-handed lay-up.
That was the beginning of the end for the Spurs tonight, despite leading 48-41 to end the half.