For the Los Angeles Lakers, their only realistic chances of coming back in the Western Conference Quarterfinals hinged on getting a surprising upset in the Staples Center on Friday night. The San Antonio Spurs crushed them, and those chances, with a brutally efficient 120-89 victory.
The 31-point margin of victory is the worst home playoff loss ever for the Lakers, who trailed by double digits from 30 seconds remaining in the first quarter to triple zeroes in the fourth, eclipsing a 29-point loss to the Portland Trail Blazers in 2000. And the following words are, incredibly, true: Los Angeles wasted very good games from Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock, reserves pressed into service by a spate of backcourt injuries, as the two guards combined for 44 points on 32 shots.
Tim Duncan had 26 points and nine rebounds for the Spurs, leading them in both categories, schooled Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol repeatedly with an arsenal of jumpers and fakes, and even threw down a couple of dunks in one of his finer playoff games of recent vintage.
The trouble for the Lakers was that Duncan was far from the only Spur playing great ball: Tony Parker added 20 points and seven assists, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, and DeJuan Blair all finished in double figures, and every player on the Spurs' active roster played and scored, including Aron Baynes. San Antonio shot 61.2 percent from the field, and rolled up their 120 points with just 15 points coming from five made threes.
At least Gasol got a triple-double (11 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists), his first in a playoff game. That it is the first triple-double in an NBA playoff game recorded by a player whose team lost by more than 14 points is probably not particularly comforting.
Game 4 is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, and the Spurs will have a chance to broom the Lakers out of the playoffs in it. They should be highly motivated to do so: while these Lakers would surely not be the first NBA team to come back from a 3-0 deficit in a playoff series, San Antonio winning in four would probably allow for Tiago Splitter, who left this game with a sprained ankle, to heal up before a Western Conference Semifinals series.
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