The San Antonio Spurs shot a stellar 52.2 percent in the first half of Game 2 of the NBA Playoffs first round and ended the first two frames on a 13-2 run after the Los Angeles Lakers played well enough to hang around on the road on both ends of the floor.
The Lakers are getting a strong effort from Dwight Howard, who is taking on a leadership role in the absence of Kobe Bryant and working hard on both ends of the floor. He and Pau Gasol have 10 points apiece and 10 rebounds between the two of them.
Satchel Price broke it all down prior to the game with an excellent Game 2 preview. Now that we're through a full half, it's time to revisit those questions:
1. Will the Lakers' defense hold up?
This is the million-dollar question when talking about the Lakers in any context, but it holds especially true with a team that executes as flawlessly as San Antonio. All eyes are on Howard as he begins to look healthier each game, and is becoming the player Lakers fans gushed over before the season began.
The Lakers are doing a fine job overall in Game 2 largely due to Howard's effort. His activity has manifested itself as he's totaled three blocks and the fact that he's changed several other shots.
If he keeps it up, the Lakers will have a shot at stealing this one.
2. Can L.A. cut down on the turnovers?
In addition to struggling to get stops, the Lakers most glaring weakness has been taking care of ball. They can't afford to give a team like San Antonio extra possessions. Unfortunately, that's precisely what they did to spark a late second-half run from the Spurs that gave them all the momentum heading into the locker room after an otherwise solid effort in that area. The Lakers have just five turnovers after giving the ball away 18 times in Game 1, but again, they've come at critical moments in the second half.
3. Will the Spurs' backups be the difference?
After lighting the Lakers up for 40 points by the reserves on Sunday, the Spurs' second unit is beginning to heat up behind the stellar play of Manu Ginobili, who has 12 points off the bench. If the Lakers want to have any chance at getting back in the game, they'll need to close out on his outside shot and know where he is on the floor.