San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan and Coach Gregg Popovich have been together 15 years and played in 191 playoffs games, more than any tandem in NBA history.
Getting playoff wins are not easy, but getting the first is always a good start, particularly when it’s against your rival.
Duncan had 17 points and 10 rebounds to guide the San Antonio Spurs to a 91-79 win over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of a Western Conference 1st-round playoff series.
The 35-year old forward was 6-of-15 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line in 35 minutes.
“It was a good start to our playoff run. We shook off a lot of cobwebs we have had during the last 10 games or so,” related Duncan of the Spurs who had lost 7 of their last 10 games. “It was an excellent start overall.”
The Lakers, who trailed most of the game, cut the lead to 4 in the 3rd quarter when Pau Gasol’s turnabout jumper made it 54-50 with 4:42 left in the quarter.
Manu Ginobili then scored the final 8 points of third quarter, including 2 3-pointers, to put San Antonio Spurs up 70-57.
Ginobili, who played 19 minutes, is slowly returning from a right strained hamstring that sidelined him 9 games. He was key to a bench that outscored L.A Lakers reserves 40-10.
“Yeah, it was fab to have Manu back,” related Popovich. “He does what he does. He makes big shots. He creates problems for the opponent and he has a great will, a great desire.”
San Antonio’s Matt Bonner pushed the lead straight to 16, the biggest of the game, when he connected on a 3-pointer with 4 minutes left, making it 84-68 and electrify the sellout crowd of 18,581.
Ginobili and Tony Parker both finished with 18 points for San Antonio. Bonner added 10 as San Antonio (1-0) bounced back from a 3-game losing run to finish the season.
The San Antonio Spurs defense also made a return to playoff form, forcing 18 turnover to 14 points and limiting the Lakers to two fast break points, while getting 17.
“We’ll make adjustments,” expounded Laker coach Mike D’Antonio. “I was happy with the turnovers that we had. I was not satisfied with the turnovers we had. To me that was the difference in the game. We just turned the ball over too many times.”
Dwight Howard led the Los Angeles Lakers (0-1) with 20 points and 15 rebounds. In his return to the lineup, Steve Nash added 16 points and Steve Blake had 12. Gasol contributed 16 points and 16 rebounds. They held San Antonio Spurs to shooting 38 percent from the field.
Los Angeles Lakers didn’t take advantage of their size inside like they did in their 91-86 win over San Antonio Spurs on April 14, outscoring the Spurs in the paint just 40-32.
“It was the first game. We can’t get discouraged because we lost the 1st game,” said Howard. “They just made a lot of shots and we missed a lot of shots. Probably in Game 2 things will change.” Basketball odds