1Q San Antonio didn't come out playing any better than they did in LA, but they were playing with a lot more energy. However, when Manu entered the game, he heated up quickly, and slowly, the rest of the team followed.
2Q The Spurs defense got amped up, playing physical down on the blocks. Barry would get some early minutes, and had a lovely pass on the fastbreak, leading to a Parker layup. Manu would get to be scorching hot, raining shots from beyond. He would continue to hit ridiculous shots with a tough layup in the paint. The Laker bench wasn't bringing the same energy or discipline that they showed at home, and the Spurs soon expanded their lead. Manu would hit an impressive 3 to beat the shot clock, and the first half would come to a close, with neither Odom nor Gasol getting anything going.
3Q The Spurs looked more agressive on the boards, but they wouldn't look that way long, as Oberto failed to show any effort to box out , when he could have easily grabbed the rebound. The Lakers would get a bit foul happy, going over the limit, and Fisher would soon get questionably T'd up. Ginobili's shot had definitely cooled off from the first half, but Kobe's shot wasn't looking as smooth as it usually does either.
4Q In the final period, nursing a 12 point lead, San Antonio's passing finally started to show some crispness to it again. As Parker started to turn it on, Kobe would put his team on his back, and go on to hit several very difficult threes, even being fouled on one, but missing his first free throw attempt of the night. Manu would make one more spectacular play, taking his turn at the one man break, making the layup and one. Kobe would sit for the final 3 minutes, as San Antonio rolled on to a 103-84 victory, dealing the Lakers their worst loss of the playoffs.
Review The role players came out and brought a little bit to the table tonight, but they're going to need to bring even more in the next 3 games. Duncan gave us a taste of the 20-20 game, commonly seen in a town called Orlando. Parker did a much better job of staying out of the corners tonight, avoiding many of the traps he saw in the first two games. The French Flash also looked to push the fast break EVERY trip down the court, calmly pulling it out and waiting for the other guys if he didn't have anything. This game was largely won on the back of Ginobili, energizing the entire team. The bench helped out, hitting some open shots, but Horry needs to shoot when he has an open look, and Finley needs to give us contribution that is worthy of the money Mark Cuban is paying him. One small bright spot for LA is Farmar, who depite not playing well, didn't look bad. He'll be one to keep your eye on in game four.
The Battle's Just Begun The defense of the Alamo is not over. The San Antonio bench will need to take their performance from tonight, and bump it up another level. The big three put up nice stats tonight, but 2 of the key cogs in LA put up lousy stats. If San Antonio's 3 play like they can, and LA's three play like they can, it will be up to the role players doing a lot of dirty work. You only out rebounded the Lakers by 5, and Tim had over half of them. You hit 55% from downtown, but Ginobili was 5-7 of that. You can expect Odom to bounce back, and you can expect Kobe to rise another level. Oberto and Thomas need to step up and rebound like they've played in the post before, Finley needs to earn the full value of both of his paychecks, and Udoka needs to prove he can limit Kobe more than he has thus far. And you can bet 3 offensive rebounds isn't going to cut it in game four.
Duncan: 22 pts, 21 boards, 5 assists Ginobili: 30 pts, 5-7 3s Parker: 20 pts, 5 assists
Kobe: 30 pts, 5 boards, 3 steals Odom: 7 pts, 11 boards, 6 assists
The first two games in LA featured a suspense filled game one, and a game two blowout. San Antonio finally got some rest, and the Lakers bench struggled.