FIRST QUARTER: LAKERS 16 SAN ANTONIO 20
Highlight reel: Wonderful ceremony to honor Tim Duncan’s second consecutive MVP award before the game began. The Commish was there, apparently saying nice things about Duncan. A cheering crowd drowned him out, which was probably for the best. Nobody came here to see the Commish. The fans chanted “MVP,” and Duncan, true to form, sheepishly acknowledged their cheers by holding the trophy aloft for all to see. Then the game began, the third series in as many seasons between the Lakers and Spurs.
Not in the box score: If the first quarter was any indication, this series will be a good deal more like the grinding stuff the Spurs played against the Phoenix Suns in the opening round. The fun-and-run of the Laker-Minnesota Timberwolf series was quickly forgotten, replaced by a more plodding pace favored by the defense-oriented Spurs. It doesn’t make for great basketball, but the Spurs are good at suffocating the opposition.
Winning numbers: Shaquille O’Neal was off quickly with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Wrong numbers: The rest of the Lakers had six points and eight rebounds.
Leading scorers: Lakers -- O’Neal 10; Spurs -- Duncan 8.
Leading rebounders: Lakers -- O’Neal 8; Spurs -- Duncan, David Robinson 3.
SECOND QUARTER: LAKERS 35 SAN ANTONIO 38
Highlight reel: There was more ugliness in the second quarter, capped by Bryant’s forced shot with the clock ticking toward halftime and Kevin Willis’ hitting a midcourt heave at the buzzer. By that margin, the Spurs led. The Spurs had the Lakers down, 30-22, when Duncan scored on a drive to the hoop and was fouled with 5:45 to go. He missed the free throw and Bryant made a three-pointer to ignite a Laker rally. Derek Fisher made another three and the Lakers seemed to be clicking. Didn’t last long, but Duncan did pick up his third foul and went to the bench in favor of Willis with 1:32 to play.
Not in the box score: There’s no one to deal with O’Neal. Robinson always gives it a try, but inevitably comes up on the short end of the matchup. When Robinson goes out, Duncan takes his turn, but the Spurs can’t risk having him pick up fouls, which leaves Malik Rose to pick up O’Neal. Rose stands 6 feet 7 and weighs 255 to O’Neal is 7-1 and, ahem, 315.
Winning number: Duncan’s 15 points by halftime.
Wrong number: Duncan’s third foul with 1:32 to go.
Leading scorers: Lakers -- Bryant 10; Spurs -- Duncan 7.
Leading rebounders: Lakers -- O’Neal 7; Spurs -- Duncan 4.
THIRD QUARTER: LAKERS 52 SAN ANTONIO 60
Highlight reel: Eye-catching plays were few and far between through three quarters, but Bryant’s sweeping move from the right wing produced one. His reverse layup cut a Laker deficit to 55-49 late in the quarter. For once, San Antonio’s defensive stopper Bruce Bowen wasn’t hounding him. Bowen helped the Spurs maintain a lead by making two three-pointers, his first points in the game, in the opening minutes of the quarter. Bowen gets raves for his tight defense against the opposition’s top perimeter players, but he also led the league in three-point shooting percentage (44.9%).
Not in the box score: What’s with Tony Parker’s jump shot? He’s drifting to his left each time he lets one go. Not surprisingly, he isn’t hitting. This might have been a problem in past postseasons, but with Bowen, Manu Ginobili and Stephen Jackson giving the Spurs more from the outside, it’s less of a concern. Duncan was at the top of his game, so all was well for the Spurs heading into the fourth quarter.
Winning numbers: The Spurs turned six Laker turnovers into seven points.
Wrong number: The Lakers had zero points from their subs through three quarters.
Leading scorers: Lakers -- Bryant 10; Spurs -- Duncan 8.
Leading rebounders: Lakers -- Robert Horry 6; Spurs -- Several with two.
FOURTH QUARTER: LAKERS 82 SAN ANTONIO 87
Highlight reel: Already missing Rick Fox because of a torn tendon in his left foot, the Lakers gasped as Fox’s replacement, Devean George, crumpled to the floor 15 seconds into the quarter. Ginobili had swiped the ball from Brian Shaw and was attempting to split Shaw and George when George appeared to roll his left ankle after landing on Ginobili’s foot. George screamed in agony. X-rays did not show any broken bones and the initial diagnosis was a bad sprain. That’s bad luck. The Lakers were thin on the bench as it was; without Fox and George, Bryant moved from shooting guard to small forward to fill the void for the rest of Game 1. Shaw moved from the bench into the backcourt and the Lakers hoped for the best.
Not in the box score: The Lakers lost O’Neal for the final 3:26 after he fouled out, picking up three fouls in a span of 1:18. They needed the big man down the stretch but had to make do with a patchwork lineup that also was without Fox and George.
Winning numbers: The Spurs turned 19 Laker turnovers into 21 points by game’s end.
Wrong numbers: Bryant scored 37 points but made only 16 of 38 shots.
Leading scorers: Lakers -- Bryant 13; Spurs -- Ginobili 8.
Leading rebounders: Lakers -- Shaw 5; Spurs -- David Robinson 4.