1Q The Spurs offense looked much sharper as the game began, but they still weren't showing the rebounding intensity they have lacked this entire round. Fortunately though, Finley decided to show up, hitting the shots you would expect him to make.
2Q San Antonio was dialed in from long distance, but after a nice lob from Walton to Farmar, the Laker bench would dial up the intensity. After a long drought, Barry would shake the Spurs out of their doldrums, but Kobe would come back to make difficult shots that he worked hard to get. Thomas, finally playing, would make a few mistakes, but was making up for them with points, nice defense, and rebounds. But the Lakers would put up a big run to come within 6 at the half.
3Q San Antonio quickly pushed the lead back to double digits. The Lakers would struggle to come closer than 6 for several minutes, but as the Spurs forgot how to box out again, they kept chipping away to take a one point lead with one period to go.
4Q Kobe came out attacking, and he was making things look way too easy. Of all the players on the roster, Barry would answer him by going to the rim and getting the foul. Soon after, Thomas would show a sign of hope, as he grabbed an offensive board and got the follow up bucket. Barry would drill a 3, and Ginobili, despite not finishing his shots, was starting to grab some rebounds. However, as Kobe carried his team, and hit some ridiculous shots, it was too much to overcome. Lakers send the Spurs home for the year, with a 100-92 win. The NBA now has half of their 1980s deja vu dream matchup in place.
Review Most of the people recapping this are going to come out and tell you San Antonio lost because they were too old, or because they couldn't score enough. While both of those are true, to a certain extent, neither is why the Lakers are advancing instead of the Spurs. Offensive Rebounding. Plain and simple, you don't win a game when you allow Gasol to grab 9 offensive rebounds. Duncan may have had a triple-double, which wasn't enough. Kobe may have had 39 points, which helped LA. But there were too many lapses on rebounding on both ends of the court, leading to rebounds that were all too easy for the Lakers to grab, during all 5 games of this series.
The Offseason As TNT pointed out to us, Oberto, Stoudamire, Thomas, Horry, and Finley are all free agents. I expect that Thomas will be back, for no more than one year, and Oberto will return as well. This will leave a lot of decisions to make as the draft nears. June and July are going to be very interesting months for Spurs fans.
Duncan: 19 pts, 15 boards, 10 assists Parker: 23 pts, 4 assists Ginobili: 9 pts, 7 boards, 2 blocks
Gasol: 12 pts, 19 boards, 5 assists, 4 blocks Kobe: 39 pts, 3 boards Odom: 13 pts, 8 boards
Final Note I still don't think LA is a 'better' team than these Spurs. However, they were better rested, having an easier road to the third round. LAs bench is better than I gave them credit for in the positional breakdown, but they still aren't better. Kobe was truly phenomenal, doing everything he's always done to the Spurs, working as hard as ever against Bowen's defense, but getting his team more involved throughout. Kudos. Despite his 39 point performance tonight though, Gasol won this game. Look at his stat line, diverse and big. Nice job Pau.
After a first round that was emotionally challenging, and a second round that was physically draining, there just wasn't enough recovery time in the third round. San Antonio will be watching the NBA Finals from afar.