San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Postgame Grades and Analysis

Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured ColumnistNovember 2, 2013

San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Postgame Grades and Analysis

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    In what was generally a pretty ugly game, the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, 91-85, at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

    As was the case during the Lakers' first two games this season, the team looked competitive only when the second unit was in the game. If you're a Lakers fan, you have to be worried about a starting unit that has been pitiful (with the exception of Pau Gasol).

    For the Spurs, they quietly and steadily plugged away without Tim Duncan Friday night. The game never really got out of hand, but it also never really felt like San Antonio lost control.

    Each side had some pretty good individual performances, and one side had a bunch of duds.

Point Guards

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    Tony Parker, Spurs

    As long as he was matched up with Steve Nash or Steve Blake, Tony Parker scored whenever he darn-well pleased. He can get past just about anyone with his quick first step and great ball-handling. But it's particularly easy against the Lakers' Steves.

    I feel like I see at least one beautiful move that makes me say "Wow" every time I watch Parker. And they come in all kinds of different situations. Friday night, he hit Steve Nash with a Kevin McHale-esque up-and-under that left Nash flailing hopelessly.

    Parker finished this game with 24 points on 12-of-18 shooting.

    Overall Grade: A


    Steve Nash, Lakers

    I've been saying Jordan Farmar should be in this role since the Lakers' opening night, and it's becoming more clear with each game.

    It's hard to watch Nash right now. The decline over the past two seasons has been rapid and unforgiving. He no longer has the shiftiness and reaction times that made him a nearly impossible matchup in Phoenix.

    And now, even his shot is betraying him. Parker and the other Spurs who defended him had little trouble. 

    Nash scored five points on 1-of-8 shooting. He still had a decent amount of assists—five in 23 minutes.

    Overall Grade: F

Shooting Guards

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    Danny Green, Spurs

    Danny Green struggled so much in this one that he didn't even start the second half. Gregg Popovich opted to go with Manu Ginobili instead. 

    It's nights like this when Green's one-dimensional nature on offense really manifests itself. He was just 1-of-6 from the field. When those shots aren't falling, there isn't a whole lot else he provides.

    Overall Grade: F


    Steve Blake, Lakers

    This Nash and Steve Blake experiment is an abject failure. Both are 6'3" and nearly incapable of guarding either guard spot.

    Making things worse, neither one is shooting the ball well. Not well at all.

    But that hasn't kept Blake from chucking away. He hoisted 12 attempts Friday night, making just two. Someone needs to tell him that just because he's playing the 2, doesn't mean he's Kobe Bryant. No more fadeaways!

    He did distribute the ball well, though, tallying nine assists, but that isn't enough to make up for all his other struggles. There's more than one option on the bench who's better.

    Overall Grade: D-

Small Forwards

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    Kawhi Leonard, Spurs

    Kawhi Leonard is always quietly solid and can affect a game in so many different ways. Friday night, he showcased his rebounding ability.

    He's one of the best 3s in the league on the boards and against the Lakers he collected 11. He also put 15 points. Double-doubles will be a common occurrence for Leonard this season.

    Overall Grade: B+


    Nick Young, Lakers

    This is the third Lakers starter I've talked about, and guess what, it's the third one I'm not sure belongs in the starting lineup.

    I love watching Nick "Swaggy P" Young play for the same reason I loved Metta World Peace on the Lakers—and that reason is not efficiency.

    Young didn't have a chance to take quite as many bad shots Friday night because coach Mike D'Antoni played him for just 18 minutes. He still managed to shoot under 50 percent, going 1-of-3 from the field for six points.

    Overall Grade: F

Power Forwards

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    Boris Diaw, Spurs

    Boris Diaw did little to affect this game one way or another, until he hit a huge three for the Spurs with about 1:30 left in the fourth. The shot stretched the lead to four at 85-81.

    In 22 minutes, Diaw scored 14 points on 5-of-11 shots—none bigger than the fourth-quarter bomb.

    Overall Grade: B


    Shawne Williams, Lakers

    Why don't we just go ahead and make it 4-for-4. Shawne Williams is yet another Laker who really hasn't done anything as a starter this season.

    That certainly includes Friday night, as Williams went 1-of-4 from the field for three points.

    His role on the team is that of a stretch 4, but he's just not getting it done. From deep, he went 1-of-3.

    Overall Grade: F


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    Tiago Splitter, Spurs

    Tiago Splitter is rarely called upon to score. So it was no big deal that he put in just nine points. Especially since two of those points were from a critical tip-in with about 30 seconds left in the game.

    Rebounding and defense is his role, and he was great at the former Friday night, snagging 14 boards.

    Defensively, though, Splitter was unable to contain Pau Gasol for much of this game. He generally looked more concerned with being in help position than being with Gasol. That's fine, as long as you can recover when your man has the ball. Splitter didn't do a great job at that Friday night.

    Overall Grade: B-


    Pau Gasol, Lakers

    The lone bright spot for the Lakers starting unit Friday night was Pau Gasol. This should come as no surprise, as he's basically been that in all three LA games this season.

    Even when playing with four other guys who didn't command a ton of attention from the Spurs, Gasol still found ways to get to the open spots on the floor for his mid-range jump shot.

    He went 8-of-17 from the field for 20 points. He also grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked two shots.

    All season, he's looked like LA's best player—by a long shot. But D'Antoni's double-digit deep rotation is limiting Gasol's minutes. Friday night, he played 29. You have to find some way to get your best player on the floor for more than that, right?

    Overall Grade: A

Sixth Men

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    Manu Ginobili, SG, Spurs

    Manu Ginobili actually started the second half—that's how much better he was than Danny Green Friday night. He hit a game-high three threes on seven attempts from out there. He finished with 20 points off the bench. 

    And as is usually the case, he finished the game for the Spurs. 

    If San Antonio has Ginobili playing at this level all season, it'll be contenders for another Western Conference title.

    Overall Grade: A


    Jodie Meeks, SG, Lakers

    Right now, it looks like this role could fall to a different player every night for the Lakers. Against the Spurs, Jodie Meeks stepped up and played better than anyone off the bench.

    During his career, Meeks has developed into more than just a three-point specialist. He showed that Friday night by grabbing six rebounds and playing aggressive defense.

    He played so well Friday night (scoring 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting) that the Lakers gave him the opportunity to have the ball in his hands, down four with just 20 seconds left. Unfortunately, he committed a turnover that led to an easy dunk for Ginobili that sealed the game.

    One play does not make a game, though. He was solid in spite of the mistake.

    Overall Grade: B+


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    Outside of Manu Ginobili, San Antonio's bench was really bad. The other six reserves who saw the floor Friday night went 3-of-20 from the field for just six points.

    They didn't provide much in the form of defense or rebounding, either.

    Overall Grade: F



    If there's one takeaway on the Lakers through three games this season—it's that the bench is significantly better than the starting five.

    They play with more energy. They're more athletic, bigger and even shooting better.

    The four starters not named Pau Gasol went 5-of-27 from the field. The bench went 17-of-38—and that includes a 0-of-6 night for Xavier Henry.

    If I'm Mike D'Antoni and my organization doesn't want me Riggin' for Wiggins, I have to start thinking of ways to get these guys more minutes. And that might mean switching up the starting five.

    Overall Grade: B