The San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers will begin their first-round series in the NBA Playoffs on Sunday, April 21 (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). The two teams played three times during the regular season. The Lakers only won one of those games, but the series was decided by a total of ten points and both teams scored the same number of points in aggregate. Oddly enough, the L.A. win came after Kobe Bryant injured his Achilles. Here is a look back at the regular season series on a game-by-game basis.
Nov. 13, 2012 | Spurs 84, Lakers 82
Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 28 points for the Lakers, but the Spurs used 19 points from Tony Parker and 18 points from Tim Duncan to escape an ugly game with a win. San Antonio shot just 38.9 percent from the field and got next to nothing from the bench. The Lakers turned the ball over 17 times and scored just 26 points in the paint.
Offensive execution at the end of the game made the difference. The Spurs designed a play to free Danny Green for a game-winning three-point shot with 9.3 seconds remaining, while the Lakers fumbled their way to a last-second attempt from beyond the arc by Pau Gasol.
Jan. 9, 2013 | Spurs 108, Lakers 105
Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol both missed this contest, yet the Lakers stayed in the game thanks to 27 points from Kobe Bryant, 23 points from Metta World Peace and 22 more from Earl Clark. Another frantic ending developed, as described in the recap at Silver Screen and Roll:
Every Lakers game needs a frantic end nowadays, it's just the way it works. We know the script here, the Lakers turn a 10 point deficit throughout the game into 5. Maybe 4 even if things go exceptionally well. But something funny happened this time around, they brought it within 3 with a minute left as San Antonio began to meltdown in front of our eyes. Up the roller coaster of hope we went. So close we could pull the clouds right out of the sky itself.
And there it was, in all of it's glory. Steve Nash takes the inbounds pass and immediately dumps it to Kobe Bryant at the corner of the arc. No screens. No off-ball action. Just an isolation against one of the better perimeter defenders in the league, Kawhi Leonard. As expected, Kobe takes the shot against all conventional wisdom and it misses. The ball is tipped out and sails into the hands of Earl Clark who shoots a prayer into the air from well beyond the three-point line.
Apr. 14, 2013 | Lakers 91, Spurs 86
Dwight Howard stepped up in the absence of Kobe Bryant and posted 26 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks to cover up a 3-17 shooting performance by Pau Gasol to lead the Lakers to victory. The Spurs played without Ginobili and got very little from Parker, who finished 1-10 from the field with four turnovers. Tim Duncan scored 23 points and grabbed ten rebounds in the loss.
The crew at Silver Screen and Roll felt the Lakers caught the Spurs at a good time:
To these eyes, the Lakers were a little lucky to get a Spurs team which was far from their best. Tony Parker struggled on the night, and Tiago Splitter missed at least 4 layups as well. Tim Duncan was an absolute monster in ways that no 36 year old man should be able to do, but the Spurs struggled with the crisp passing and lethal shot making that is their calling card. The Laker defense had something to do with the Spurs' struggles, but that doesn't explain the whole equation.
Drew Garrison of Silver Screen and Roll did his own series review, and he provided shot charts for each team over the three-game series, via NBA.com/stats: