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Sizing up whether San Antonio is the Lakers' main threat in the West

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Why the Spurs could be the Lakers' main threat in the West: The Spurs (26-4) are off to a terrific start, so much so that their 24-3 mark through 27 games ties the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls' record as the second-best start in NBA history at that point. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson makes a good point that it's "still early yet to start making too many noises about it, considering the league's not even at the halfway point of the season." But unlike other teams, the Spurs have the experience and maturity that will keep early-season success from blinding them to the pitfalls that happen later in the season. San Antonio has always had a businesslike, no-nonsense attitude, and its fast-paced offense has come because players were willing to adjust their roles. The fact that Spurs forward Tim Duncan has willingly taken a back seat in his production (a career scoring average of 13.9 points per game) and minutes (29 per contest) for a facilitating role exemplifies the Spurs' team-first mentality and will likely ensure better long-term health.

The Spurs also likely won't be one of those teams that flame out in March and April after a soaring regular-season beginning. Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich shares a similar quality with Jackson: knowing how to properly pace a team so that it's at its peak once postseason play hits. The Spurs also have great familiarity with the Lakers, and each team has paid particular attention to the other's progress, what with the Lakers winning four NBA championships and San Antonio winning three in the last decade. Though that can work in the Lakers' favor, it could also work for Spurs, given their knowledge of how difficult it is to beat the L.A. in a seven-game series. The Lakers have plenty of time to cut into San Antonio's five-game cushion in the Western Conference, but the Spurs' talent, experience and current home record (17-2) shows it's significant that the Lakers hold home-court advantage over their rivals.

Why they might not be: Even though the Spurs are very familiar with the Lakers in the postseason, the defending champions have won four of the five playoff series this decade. San Antonio would no doubt give the Lakers a good effort, but that can only go so far in a six- or seven-game series. Despite San Antonio's early-season success, Popovich has genuine concern regarding the team's defensive discipline. The Spurs are ranked 16th in total defense (98.10 points per game) and 17th in shooting percentage allowed (conceding to opponents a 47.1% clip from the field)), two statistics that the Lakers would surely excel in during the postseason. The Lakers may have experienced a severe drop-off in total offense from November to December (108.3 to 98.4 points per game), but that shouldn't become an issue once postseason play begins.

The Spurs and the Lakers also share a common concern in wanting to stay healthy, because most of each team's roster makeup consists of players in their 30s. That variable is something that can't be predicted until the time comes, an issue that might doom the Lakers regardless of who they play. Should San Antonio struggle in that respect, no doubt that will give the Lakers an edge in a series that always ends up being a chess match. 

-- Mark Medina
Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: San Antonio's Manu Ginobili scored 14 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter to help the Spurs beat the Timberwolves in overtime Wednesday night. Credit: Jim Mone / Associated Press

 
Comments () | Archives (15)

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THE LAKERS MAIN THREAT IS...THE LAKERS!!!!!!!

Oh, these guys are definitely our main threat in the west. A lot of familiar faces but featuring all kinds of new offensive wrinkles and tons of firepower - they've been lighting it up from behind the arc, leading the league not only in wins but three point percentage. We need this win in the worst way... I'm hoping Bynum shows the old beastliness, hoping the the Killer B's prove they're here to stay.

And Mamba24 - you're right of course. Our own worst enemy has been ourselves. Let's hope for a turnaround tonight.

@Dave, how you been my brother! Other than the last few games of course! LOL! We shall prevail tonight Dave. If we could survive Smush and Kwame we can survive a Christmas day loss. I say Lakers by 8!!!!

Every time the Lakers play one of the top West teams coming up, I'm going to do a post like this. Kind of gives a sense what the Lakers need to worry about when they face Dallas, OKC, Utah.

Dont worry LAKERTRUTH xmas may be over but santa aint done deliverin presents this season.. see santas comments below IN CAPS:

My Laker Christmas Wish List:

I WISH:

- for Bynum's return to health ASAP.. HOHOHO THATS A LOT TO ASK FOR UR FIRST WISH BUT IT SHALL BE DELIVERED IN ONE CONDITION... PHILS HAS TO LIMIT BYNUMS MINUTES

- for Gasol to man up and guard the paint with effort and tenacity... HOHOHO THAT I CANNOT PROMISE NOW BUT CHK BACK WITH ME IN PLAYOFFS

- for Fish to either quickly shoot or pass when passed to, instead of dribbling, trying to survey the floor, or driving to the basket.. HOHOHO.. I CAN FLY WITH MY REINDEERS N COME DOWN CHIMNEYS BUT THATS WAY TOO MUCH TO ASK. NEXT

- for reduced minutes for an aging and ineffective Fish... WTH IS WRONG WITH YOU I SAID NO MORE DFISH WISHES.. IMPOSSIBLE. TRY JESUS OR SOMETHING

- for Lamar to make the all-star team. I GOT A GOOD FEELIN ABOUT THIS ONE.

- for Artest to start hitting open shots. OH HAVE NO FEAR MY DEAR... BIG BAD ARTEST WILL DELIVER WHEN IT COUNTS N SHUT HIS CRITICS AGAIN

- for Kobe's knees to be 100% by the all-star break.. YES YES YES YOU HAVE MY PERSONAL GUARANTEE (KNOCK KNOCK ON WOOD)

- for the Lakers to use to their newly acquired trade exception to bulk up the front court.. NOT THIS YEAR BUT WILL PUT ON TOP OF LIST NEXT SEASON.

- for a threepeat... HOHOHO SANTA DONT LIKE TO MAKE PREDICTIONS BUT THAT WILL COME GIFTWRAPPED IN JUNE. HOHOHO

Every time the Lakers play one of the top West teams coming up, I'm going to do a post like this. Kind of gives a sense what the Lakers need to worry about when they face Dallas, OKC, Utah. Posted by: Mark Medina | December 28, 2010 at 04:31 PM
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NOW THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT!!!!!

- for Fish to either quickly shoot or pass when passed to, instead of dribbling, trying to survey the floor, or driving to the basket.. HOHOHO.. I CAN FLY WITH MY REINDEERS N COME DOWN CHIMNEYS BUT THATS WAY TOO MUCH TO ASK. NEXT - for reduced minutes for an aging and ineffective Fish... WTH IS WRONG WITH YOU I SAID NO MORE DFISH WISHES.. IMPOSSIBLE. TRY JESUS OR SOMETHINGPosted by: yellofever | December 28, 2010 at 04:35 PM
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ROTFLMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Can we just get rid of Steve Blake, bench Fish (hate to say this as I love him) and steal Steve Nash from the suns.. this would make me the happiest woman in the world.. and then no one could beat us.

MM - I think that'd be cool to have posts about our West opponents. It's always good to focus on what's important and keep our heads pointed in the right direction.

Happy Holidays everyone-
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ABXvd8j0fM&feature=related

time to go to work & beat them Spurs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agnKPLrG2E0&feature=related

have a good evening & enjoy the game-

@Mamba24....

THE LAKERS MAIN THREAT IS...THE LAKERS!!!!!!!

Posted by: mamba24 | December 28, 2010 at 04:03 PM

AMEN!!

Personally, I see a Spurs team that is no longer Duncan's team, nor Ginobli's, nor Parker's. The man that makes this team go is George Hill. His production and speed allow the 2nd unit of the Spurs to play at a level that allows the starters plenty of rest and support. The Spurs have also won more than their share of close games. Those things have a way of evening out. The Lake Show needs to stay with the Spurs perimeter players and not get sucked in on foolish double teams. The Spurs thrive on 3point shooting. If Duncan can score 50, so be it.

I think Dallas is very good. I watched parts of their game last night AT OKC, and they took apart the Thunder late, despite losing Dirk Nowitski to a knee injury early in the game. They have a lot of weapons.

This team is a mess. Let's see if Phil has the guts to change this lineup. I'm done with excuses.. can't even watch the games anymore I get so pissed.

Ginobli score 9 and Dunkin 2 this combined with the lakers pissed off by the way they have been play and what do you get, Another blow out by the opposition. This was a great statement game. This now is F----cking embarassing. How did the spurs get so good so fast. They sucked last year? Dunkin is not even needed these days. Odom says the Lakers are cocky and beleive they should win every game. i think the opposite. i think they have lost all confidence in being able to win. Something has to happen, this team is bad. bynun weas suppose to be the big scoreer in Kobes later years. He is barely scoring. Time to start looking for a new scorer. we are not keeping up with teams right now. another thing its time to get a speedy point guard so teams will stop playing the zone. Phil has made not adjustments to this. I want to see a different type of offense. There is no cohesion at all. I don't know what happened, but we're a bad team now. Boston and San Antonio and Dallas and Miami keep winning. I'm out

CrzFan

get rid of fisher and coach jackson,he has been lucky over the years he has been fortunately to have had great players.

he just sits on the bench and dont know how to make adjustment.pau is a mashmellow


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