People Who haven’t seen yesterday’s match between the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs nor the one played last Friday between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat will be puzzled comparing this blog to the previous one. The Spurs were the same team that buried the Heat two days earlier, the two games were played on the same court, how can the result be so different?
Yesterday Manu Ginobili tried to be aggressive since the start scoring the first points but the Lakers showed they were more prepared than the Heat with their defense preventing easy shots by the Spurs. Under the basket things were very different for San Antonio as well because Andrew Bynum has been instrumental scoring and taking rebounds helping the Lakers to develop their offense.
After a couple of minutes of balanced game the Lakers took a lead which expanded rapidly, also thanks to an insane dunk by Shannon Brown, and they finished the first quarter 34-13, almost the opposite of the 36-12 that finished the first quarter for the Spurs vs. the Heat.
In the second quarter the Lakers increased their lead with Kobe Bryant scoring a triple in Ginobili’s face though he tried everything to defend. The Argentine didn’t want to lose and in the next Lakers offensive action he had a tough contact on Kobe, who got a bit angry and the two started a little argument. Nothing serious, just something that can happen between two players who among the other things have big “cojones”. Considering that Ginobili has played in Italy for some years it’s possible that they exchanged some trash talking in Italian. The funny thing is that Ron Artest quickly came to act as peacemaker taking Kobe away.
The second quarter ended 65-37 in favor of the Lakers, a score that made the second half a long garbage time. Early in the third quarter the Lakers lead reached 30 points and the most exciting moment came when Artest tried to save a ball that was going out of bounds landing on a spectator in the front row spilling his coffee and staining his shirt. The game was aired on TV and the scene was shown many times from all angles: evidently they didn’t know what to do to keep their audience so they even interviewed the spectator hit by Artest. For the record the third quarter ended 81-52.
In the fourth quarter the Spurs partly eroded the gap and on +22 coach Phil Jackson sent some starters back on court along with Odom, the team that often ends the games. It was a clear message to his players: there are just a few weeks left before the playoffs start and the players on the court must give their best even if the game is over.
Noone really believed that the Spurs could come back and the last few minutes were played by bench players who often don’t even go on court. The match ended 99-83 for the Lakers, a score that doesn’t reflect their absolute dominance.
Two days ago I didn’t write that the Heat are a failure, today I’m not writing that the Lakers have already won the Western Conference. Certainly however the NBA champions have shown that when they play their best they’re still the extraordinary team that won the last two titles. Kobe Bryant played just over 30 minutes, a bargain in view of the next big games. Yesterday he also showed he’s a vocal leader, always encouraging his teammates even when he was on the bench and during timeouts.
Next Thursday there will be the game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat: perhaps it will shed more light on the strengths of the best teams in the league or perhaps it will confuse us even more. Welcome to the NBA, where Amazing Happens!