San Antonio Spurs vs. L.A. Lakers: Game 4 Postgame Grades and Analysis
It's all over.
Los Angeles committed eight turnovers in the first quarter but found itself down by just six. San Antonio then proceeded to open things up in the second, outscoring the Lakers 26-14, taking a 18-point lead into the half.
The Lakers came out in the third quarter looking to make one last stand. Everyone except Dwight Howard did anyway. He was ejected midway through the period after receiving his second technical of the game.
Sans Dwight, Pau Gasol and crew were unable to lessen the Spurs' hold on the outcome of this game. San Antonio was just too deep and too consistent on both ends of floor.
The Lakers' offseason now begins much earlier than initially anticipated, as does all of the drama that will come with it.
Tony Parker, SAS: A
Tony Parker was simply magnificent.
San Antonio's point man torched the Lakers for 15 points and four assists in the first half alone. He wasn't as aggressive in the second half, but he didn't need to be. He finished with 23 points and four assists on 9-of-16 shooting on the night.
Los Angeles was unable to cut off his path to the basket, and he proved to be absolutely lethal on those weak-side, mid-range jumpers of his.
What he did defensively was effective as well. He was defending point guards that were clearly inferior to him, but I loved the way he hounded those entry passes to Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.
After remaining quiet—for him—in the first three games, Parker exploded here. And it showed on the scoreboard.
Darius Morris, LAL: C-
I'm going to be gentle on Darius Morris, because he was thrust into a no-win situation. Literally.
He struggled to defend San Antonio's backcourt, which tells me that he's still working through some postseason jitters (he looked crestfallen when he got that technical of his). He's normally a strong defender (that lateral quickness of his is awesome), but he couldn't make any stops when he was taken off the dribble.
Morris didn't have a good shooting night (3-of-12), but I was impressed with some of his dishes (six assists). He does have to work on avoiding bounce passes when deferring to one of his bigs in traffic. It opens up guys like Howard and Gasol to being fouled or committing a turnover.
If there was one thing to really, really like, it was Morris' speed. He pushed the tempo when possible, leaving me convinced he'll become a favorite of Mike D'Antoni's next season should he return.
Danny Green, SAS: B
Danny Green had a solid game. He finished with nine points on 4-of-11 shooting and also pitched in five rebounds and two assists.
We all know Green can shoot, and do that well. He just didn't do that here. But he was fantastic on the defensive end.
His strong-side help defense helped thwart Los Angeles' rim attacks, and he did an excellent job of suffocating the ball.
With the Spurs set to play either the offensively-inclined Nuggets or Warriors in the second round, Green's understated defense will be a driving force in deciding how far San Antonio can go from here.
Andrew Goudelock, LAL: C+
Though Andrew Goudelock made a case for himself to be a rotation player worthy of not cutting in Game 3, he failed to make a similar case in Game 4.
Goudelock finished with 14 points on 7-of-17 shooting and missed all three of his three-point attempts. His shots were rushed and mostly knuckleballs, and he needs to pass better out of double teams.
Undersized for a shooting guard, Goudelock struggled immensely on the defensive end. He's clearly unfamiliar with Los Angeles' defensive rotations, and he has a tendency to reach in when defending the break or disappear from the play entirely.
The D-League MVP played like he still hadn't adjusted to the pace of play at the NBA level. And that's because he probably hasn't.
Kawhi Leonard, SAS: B
Does anyone else get the feeling Kawhi Leonard is capable of more offensively?
The sophomore finished with 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting, but I would like to see him be able to create for himself more, especially when Tony Parker isn't in the game. I really like how tight his handle is, and he's great at splitting defenders, so more rim attacks should be in order.
You couldn't say enough about his defense, either. The Lakers never got the pick-and-roll going, and so much of that had to do with his help defense near the middle.
Leonard put forth a strong effort on the glass as well. He didn't shy away from battling down low with Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard or even Jordan Hill. And I love that.
He tallied three steals and seven rebounds in what was a stellar two-way performance.
Earl Clark, LAL: B
Some of you won't agree with me, but that's cool. Earl Clark played a good game, despite what his numbers say.
Not that his stat line was horrible (six points and six rebounds), but he didn't do much to impact the game statistically.
He needs to be more aggressive in looking for his shot when he gets the ball, that much I will say. He has, however, earned the respect of defenders, who suffocate him on the perimeter to take his three-point shooting out of the equation.
What sold me on Clark's performance (aside from the rebounding) was his level of intensity on the defensive end. He contested shots, most of which came at the rim as a help defender (seriously, just ask Tim Duncan), and he's what I would call an intelligent fouler.
The Lakers could use a versatile, more confident Clark on their roster next season. Here's to hoping they can afford him.
Tim Duncan, SAS: B
Tim Duncan shot just 4-of-9 from the floor and finished with 11 points. He was a bit too immobile on the offensive end for my liking (though I did engage in some fist-pumping after he banked a one-handed shot in during the fourth).
Although he was far too stationary during offensive sets (perhaps he was captivated by Tony Parker, too), he continues to run the floor so well for someone his age.
Credit the veteran with a strong defensive performance as well. He had his hands full guarding the likes of Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and eventually Jordan Hill, but he was able to remain active on the glass and frustrate a number of shots. His one block just doesn't do his activity around the rim justice.
The Big Fundamental was just that in this one—fundamentally sound.
Pau Gasol, LAL: A-
That's right, there was a bright spot for the Lakers in this one. And his name was Pau Gasol.
The Spaniard has been flirting with triple-doubles since returning from a bout with plantar fasciitis during the regular season, and this game was not an exception.
Pau finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists on 8-of-12 shooting from the field. He was so dangerous as a distributor at the top of the key and further in that I was convinced he should have been running point. I'd say I'm half-kidding, but I'm not. I'm completely serious.
Some (most?) are going to disagree with the grade. He had five turnovers and didn't look for his shot enough. Compared to the rest of the Lakers, though, he was outstanding. Even on defense, where he was one of the few rotating and contesting shots after Dwight Howard's ejection (spoiler).
There will still be those who maintain that the Lakers should deal the big man over the offseason, but after watching how committed he was on both ends of the floor during the postseason (this game included), the calls for his departure shouldn't be as vociferous as they were before.
Aron Baynes, SAS: C+
Aron Baynes sightings are rare. And when they happen, they are sometimes vexing. Like this one.
The rookie finished with six points on 3-of-6 shooting in just 16 minutes. He wasn't afraid to look for his offense, but he appeared allergic to playing defense.
Initially, I thought he was going to serve as an enforcer, someone who would foul the hell out of Superman and/or Pau Gasol. He instead opted to sidestep contact and/or blow assignments completely.
Still, he didn't serve as a hindrance to San Antonio. I guess that's something.
Dwight Howard, LAL: F
That's right, a big, fat "F."
Shame on Dwight Howard for being selfish. He got tossed from the game in the third quarter after picking up his second technical.
I'll admit that Howard draws a lot of contact down low that should be called, but he failed as a leader in this one. I don't care that he grabbed just eight rebounds in 21 minutes. And I don't even care that he went 3-of-9 from the line or committed five turnovers. I care that he failed miserably (beyond the stat lines) when his team needed him most.
Kobe Bryant was more of a leader here, and he was watching the game courtside...on crutches.
Now that Dwight's season is over, let the speculation regarding his future commence. Will he re-sign with the Lakers? Will he go elsewhere? And will he finally become a more conscious leader?
Stay tuned—if you can stomach it.
Manu Ginobili, SAS: B
Manu Ginobili was just 2-of-6 from the field, but he dished out six assists in just 20 minutes of action. He also played lockdown defense along the baseline.
What was most encouraging is how quick Ginobili's first step was. He continued to implement that convincing up-fake of his, but he also wasn't as opposed to driving the lane as he had become. He's getting healthy.
Which is great news for the Spurs, because they'll need him to be agile in everything he does against the uptempo stylings of the Nuggets or Warriors.
Antawn Jamison, LAL: B+
If it's any consolation, the Lakers didn't lose because of Antawn Jamison.
Los Angeles' sixth man finished with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting and secured five rebounds in 23 minutes. His defense also wasn't laughable. He made a concerted effort to leave the necessary spacing between him and his man to ensure he wouldn't get beat off the dribble.
This may have been Jamison's final game as a member of the Lakers (he's an unrestricted free agent), and if it was, he made sure to go out with a bang.
If only we could have said the same for the Lakers as a whole.
San Antonio Spurs: A
Let me start by saying that I cannot wait until DeJuan Blair signs with a team that provides him with steady minutes this offseason. As undersized as he is, he packs a two-way punch that's worthy of cracking the starting lineup. Seriously.
Blair finished with 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting in just 19 minutes. He added five rebounds as well.
The "big" man doesn't play above the rim as much as most power forwards/centers do, but he's aggressive in the paint. He hit the glass hard, used some fancy footwork to create some shot opportunities and I adore his ability to hit Tony Parker-like floaters.
Gary Neal provided instant offense off the bench (11 points) and reminded us all that he can shoot. Like really shoot. Cory Joseph added four points and six assists in just 18 minutes, because he's just awesome and one of the reasons why San Antonio has the deepest backcourt in the NBA.
Nando de Colo and Patty Mills didn't have an impact in limited action, and Matt Bonner was off (1-of-5 from the field).
But don't let that depress you, because there was a Tracy McGrady sighting. Tell me that didn't make your night.
Los Angeles Lakers: B-
The Lakers' bench wasn't horrible by any means. It was almost nonexistent, but it wasn't horrible.
Robert Sacre did absolutely nothing of value as he continues to struggle to match the power of opposing bigs. Chris Duhon was just 4-of-10 from the floor, but he was 3-of-7 from beyond the arc and dished out seven assists. I just wish I could ignore his four turnovers.
The real story was Jordan Hill, who made an appearance in the second half, much to delight of the Staples Center crowd.
In just 15 minutes he scored eight points (4-of-7 shooting), grabbed four rebounds and blocked two shots. He was more Dwight Howard than Dwight Howard.
His energy remains a valued commodity (if he can remain healthy), and fortunately for the Lakers, he's under contract for another year.