The San Antonio Spurs have dominated the Lakers in the first two games of their series. They’ve boasted double digit victories of 12 and 11 points respectively in game 1 and game 2.
The Lakers had a better chance of winning game one with their great defensive effort. On Wednesday, however, it was a different story. They gave up 102 points to the Spurs yesterday and 15 points to Tony Parker.
Parker had 28 points overall after having a four point first half. The Spurs only scored 22 points in the 3rd quarter most of which were the doing of Parker.
How did he do it? He went away from the traditional motion offense that the Spurs use. The Lakers were getting stops for the most part early in the clock. It was when things broke down that Parker took the offense over with a little help from Matt Bonner. Here is how:
The Lakers used a strategy of switching exclusively on Matt Bonner when the Spurs ran pick and rolls with him. Its commonplace to see this strategy on the pick and roll when the roll man is a guard and/or a shooter.
Ideally, you want the switch to result in an isolation with the guard and someone stuck on the roll man on the outside to defend the passing lane and the jumper. The Lakers did that part well.
The problem was that Steve Blake was switching off of Parker and onto Bonner. Blake did the best job of guarding Parker during the first half and forced him to go into where the help was coming from in the lane.
With Blake off of Parker, no one was quick enough to stay in front of Parker as he glided his way to the cup. You can see more examples of this in the video below. Three different defenders were on Parker after a switch–and one after a wheel route in the motion offense.
You see that when he was driving to the lane in those three instances, he was guarded by Antawn Jamison, Steve Nash and Metta World Peace. Those aren’t ideal matchups if you want to keep Parker out of the paint.
He did a great job of fighting under screens in the first half. He dictated which way Parker was going to go. He forced him to his left hand and to the middle of the floor in the first half. That was ideal because it was where Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol were waiting.
He also did a wonderful job of keeping up with Parker as he ran through screens when Parker was on the ball. Not many people are quick enough to do this. Blake is an average to below average defender, but when committed he can be very good–as can most players who commit to defense. He kept active hands while defending Parker and it was obviously hampering him. You can see that below.
What was the most impressive about what Parker did when he scored his 15 points in the 3rd was that he broke away from the traditional Spurs offense. That’s not normally something that the Spurs like to do. Even when their initial look dies, they normally have another look right after it that they go to. For Parker to completely take over like that is something rare.
At the end of the day, it won the game for the Spurs. They’ll travel to LA with a 2-0 series lead on the Lakers largely due to what Parker did in game 2.