Who's to Blame for Los Angeles Lakers' Game 1 Playoff Flop?
The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, 91-79, in Game 1 of Round 1 of the NBA playoffs. It simply looked like the better team won this one, especially with Kobe Bryant tweeting from home.
The Spurs were in control for most of the game, but got some timely buckets in the third quarter from Manu Ginobili to help them pull away.
Tony Parker didn't have his most efficient offensive performance. However, his supporting cast stepped up and gave the team a balanced attack.
The Lakers' top guns, on the other hand, got no support. Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol pulled the weight here, but they weren't strong enough to get L.A. over the hill.
Let's dish out some blame and see who should be most accountable for the Lakers' Game 1 flop.
Percentage of Blame: 40 percent
Without Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash at less than 100 percent, the Los Angeles Lakers were simply outmatched.
The Lakers struggled to generate offense, finishing with only 79 points on 41.1 percent shooting. They made only three three-pointers all game, missing 12 of their 15 attempts.
At this point in his career, Nash shouldn't be counted on as a top-three scoring option. He's a facilitator and a table-setter. He's not someone who's going to hit defenders with step-back jumpers in isolation.
And without Bryant in the lineup, there was nobody to take over offensively.
The Lakers worked the ball around until it got to Dwight Howard or Pau Gasol in the post. They turned it over 18 times in the process, with the Spurs anticipating where the ball was going and then making it difficult for it to get there.
There's not much more to it. The Lakers were missing the 27.3 points that Bryant averages, and they didn't have enough weapons to make up for that loss of production.
Percentage of Blame: 30 percent
The Lakers bench finished with a total of 10 points on two made field goals.
That's it, folks.
With Kobe Bryant out of the lineup, two bench buckets isn't going to cut it. Not against San Antonio.
Earl Clark played 12 minutes and didn't take a shot. Jodie Meeks played 20 and only made one. Manu Ginobili single-handedly outscored L.A.'s bench by himself. Matt Bonner matched it.
Without production from some of the Lakers reserves, this could end up being a really short series.
Percentage of Blame: 10 percent
Mike D'Antoni was never a master at adjusting, and no Kobe Bryant means major adjustments are needed.
In terms of individual matchups, the Lakers didn't exploit their advantages enough.
Dwight Howard was dominant inside, yet only took 12 shots. Steve Blake took 13. There's something wrong if Blake is taking more shot attempts than L.A.'s top offensive weapon.
The Lakers couldn't get anything going on the perimeter all game long. Pounding it inside was really the only thing that worked for them.
D'Antoni must do a better job at finding ways to exploit his mismatches over a 48-minute stretch. We'll see what he comes up with for Game 2.
San Antonio Spurs
Percentage of Blame: 20 percent
Let's not forget just how good the Spurs really are. If you're not at your best, they're going to make you pay in full.
The Lakers didn't have anyone to go shot-for-shot with Manu Ginobili, who took over in the third quarter as the go-to guy. The Spurs big three combined for 53 points, but their offense overall was balanced.
San Antonio got 40 points off its bench. It made 20-of-25 from the stripe and only turned the ball over nine times all game.
This is a team that certainly doesn't beat itself. If the Spurs are going to lose, they're going to make their opponents play their best. And in Game 1, the Lakers did not.