Below are five things to take from Lakers’ 91-85 loss Friday to the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center:
1. The Lakers couldn’t build on their strong start. Despite leading by as many as 15 points early in the game, the Lakers’ lead evaporated in the second half for a variety of reasons. Even without Tim Duncan out of the lineup because of a bruised chest, the Spurs’ compensated elsewhere. The Spurs dominated in second-chance points (20-8). They provided a heavy dose of Tony Parker (24 points), Manu Ginobili (16 points), Kawhi Leonard (15 points) and Boris Diaw (14 points).
2. The Lakers’ starting lineup didn’t provide much for Pau Gasol. He finished with a team-leading 20 points on 8 of 17 shoting and 11 rebounds, but he hardly received much support. The other starters shot a collective 5 of 27 from the field.
3. Steve Nash continues to struggle. His on-court production has hardly contributed toward it. Nash posted only five points on 1 of 8 shooting and five assists in 23 minutes. Make no mistake. The Lakers are still better off with him in the lineup to eat minutes and to provide leadership. There’s also no way Nash can build his rhythm by not playing. But he looks a total shell of himself
4. The Lakers’ bench lacks an identity. Wesley Johnson (12 points) and Jodie Meeks (14 points). But it’s clear that the Lakers’ 11-man rotation caused more confusion against San Antonio than adding any depth. Jordan Hill’s five points and four rebounds in 12 minutes showed plenty of hustle and determination, especially since Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni sat him until the fourth quarter. Whether these three reserves will have big games Sunday against Atlanta remains to be seen. That game, another reserve might have a big game instead.
5. Xavier Henry hustled despite suffering a gash. He took a hard fall to the ground, requiring Lakers trainer Gary Vitti to come out and treat him. The thud appeared so serious that the Lakers even treated him to see if he had a concussion. The Lakers said he didn’t have any symptoms. So Henry simply put a black bandage around his head and kept attacking the basket. His stat line wasn’t impressive (three points on zero of five shooting, three rebounds). But credit the man for still hustling on the floor.
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