Photo Credit: NBAE/Getty Images
There was a battle in the AT&T Center on April 24, but not between the Spurs and the Lakers. Instead, the battle was between Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili for best Spurs guard to overcome late season inures and to punish the Los Angeles Lakers defense in the first two games of round one in the playoffs.
Parker finished with 28 points, 24 of which came in the second half, and seven assists, while Ginobili in 19 minutes of play scored 13 points and dished out seven assists to match Parker for the game high.
“He (Tony parker) was impressive in the second half,” Ginobili said. “Now he’s getting healthy and we’re going to see a more old school Tony. Like the November, December and January Tony.”
Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard added 16 points apiece for San Antonio. Matt Bonner played another significant role scoring 10 points off the bench and defensively annoyed Laker All-Star Dwight Howard.
Howard was held to 16 points and nine rebounds and seemed frustrated most of the night with the officiating. In the third quarter after being called for a foul, Howard complained about the call and was rewarded with a technical foul.
“They [referees] called a foul. I told the ref ‘I love you,’ and I got a tech for it,” Howard said. “No love on the floor.”
The Lakers’ offense was far better than game one with five players scoring in double digits. Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace each scored 13 points and Steve Blake had 16 points and six rebounds.
Steve Nash continued to battle through his injuries but was mildly effective with nine points and six assists and may have re-aggravated his hamstring.
“Unfortunately I tweaked it in the first half,” Nash said. “It got worse as the game went on.”
While the Lakers offense gained some rhythm, it was still their defense that hindered them. In the first with the game tied 22 all, the Spurs went on a 6-1 run in just under a minute of play as Ginobili and Gary Neal each hit a 3-pointer to end the quarter.
“It shouldn’t be a big reason but today was huge in the first and second quarter when we could not close it out,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “That set the tone.”
With the Spurs holding home court, the series not shifts to Los Angeles for games three and four beginning Friday night at the Staples Center.