The San Antonio Spurs beat the Los Angeles Lakers pretty handily yesterday. That wasn’t because of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol though. Rather, they recieved very little help from their teammates.
The twin tower combination in LA combined for 36 points, 31 rebounds and seven assists. Not even that was enough to keep San Antonio from winning this game. The Lakers had themselves in a totally winnable situation. The Spurs two best players in Tony Parker and Tim Duncan had relatively inefficient games from the field. Manu Ginobili gave them a much needed boost with 18 points in 18 minutes of play, but other than that this was really a subpar effort from the Spurs.
Lakers other than Gasol and Howard were a combined 15-45 from the floor with only 43 points to show for it. The Spurs did a great job of getting the ball away from Gasol so that he couldn’t hurt them as a scorer. He did a fine job as a passer and the ball was moving, but the Lakers just weren’t hitting their shots.
The Spurs did an excellent job of containing the pick and roll yesterday. The Lakers didn’t really use the Gasol slip to the elbow as much as I thought they would yesterday. A majority of his post touches were from the left block and its very hard to be a creator from there as a big.
When Gasol was set up on the high block, the Spurs did a fantastic job of allowing him to be a scorer and not letting anyone else hurt them. They allowed him to take that midrange jump shot all game where he shoots 37% from all year–though, he’s particularly good on the right block with a 45% clip.
The Spurs also did a wonderful job of attacking the roll man on the pick and roll. They were going to force Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard to beat them. Their bigs did a wonderful job of staying with the Lakers guards and contesting their jump shots or passes. They were forced into taking some pretty awful shots because of the way the Spurs defense sealed off easy passing lanes and shots.
The Spurs played their big soft on the pick and roll and the Lakers took the bait. The guards were contained until the help could fight over the screen and get a good contest in. You can see that in the video below.
The Lakers didn’t do a good job setting solid picks to free up their shooters. An effort like that in the playoffs isn’t going to cut it. If Gasol, Howard and company want some help on the offensive end, they’ll need to do a better job of setting screens and opening things up for their guards.
The counter to this is to set double screens to make it more of a task for opposing guards to fight over them. When you have an ailing Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Darius Morris and Jodie Meeks as your options at guard, the little things to create space are going to matter.
Better screens enable guards to survey the floor and pick an attack method quickly. If the Lakers can do that, then they’ll be able to get some open looks for their guards.