The Lakers must hit outside shots if they want to have any hope of beating the San Antonio Spurs in their NBA first-round playoff series.
While big men Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol shot 53.6% from the field in the Lakers’ 91-79 loss in Game 1 on Sunday in San Antonio, the rest of their teammates converted only 33.3% of their shots from the field.
The Lakers need to play inside-out, but Howard and Gasol in turn need their teammates to spread the floor by hitting their open looks.
Howard still finished with a powerful double-double of 20 points and 15 rebounds while making eight of 12 shots. Gasol shot a reasonable seven of 16, also finishing with a double-double of 16 points and 16 rebounds.
The duo combined for 10 turnovers, though, another key factor in the Lakers’ loss.
Howard and Gasol needed a lot more room to work in the paint against a Spurs team that sent second and third defenders to help. With poor spacing, the Lakers turned the ball over 18 times.
As a team, the Lakers shot only three of 15 (20%) from three-point range. The bench -- Jodie Meeks, Antawn Jamison, Earl Clark and Darius Morris -- was zero for four. Steve Nash, returning from an eight-game absence because of hip and hamstring soreness, missed his only attempt, while Metta World Peace made only one of 5.
Steve Blake hit a reasonable two for five from behind the arc but was five of 13 overall for his 12 points. Nash shot six of 15 from the field for 16 points.
The Lakers had some issues defensively, but overall they held the Spurs to 91 points on 37.6% shooting from the field. That’s a 10-point improvement over the Lakers’ season average of 101 points allowed. The Spurs were held 12 points below their scoring average of 103 a game.
The pressure on Howard and Gasol to perform under duress can be alleviated significantly if their teammates open the floor by hitting shots.
In the Lakers’ 91-86 victory over the Spurs on April 14, Jamison and Meeks combined to hit five three-pointers in the fourth quarter, giving the team the cushion they needed to hold off San Antonio.
They’ll need similar performances if the Lakers want a chance at stealing Game 2 on Wednesday night in San Antonio.