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Lakers Have to Cut Down on Their Force Plays

May 07, 2003|LONNIE WHITE

You have to love Kobe Bryant's drive to accept every challenge, but sometimes his single-mindedness can be detrimental.

That was the case in Monday's Game 1 loss to San Antonio when Bryant launched 38 shots, scored 37 points but shot only two free throws. Bryant already had shot 34 times when Shaquille O'Neal fouled out with 3:26 remaining.

That's way too many shots for one player on a team that seemed to find its game late in the first round against Minnesota by passing the ball. At least half of those shots were forced over one or two San Antonio defenders and most of them were fade-aways. You're not going to get a lot of fouls called on those.

With Devean George and Rick Fox out because of injuries, the Lakers need to play more as a team.

A breakdown of Game 2:

LAKERS' MOVE -- Starting the fourth quarter Monday, O'Neal had only two fouls but got four more in less than nine minutes, two of them on the offensive end after failing to make a quick move from the post. O'Neal would have it much easier if he attacked early, especially when he has undersized Malik Rose defending him.

The Lakers can help themselves tonight by bringing the ball up quicker. They took their time in Game 1 and still had 19 turnovers, compared to only 11 by San Antonio. The slow motion left Bryant and O'Neal often forcing shots to beat the 24-second clock.

Robert Horry had a solid rebounding game Monday, getting 14 boards, but his offense was lacking. He made only one of six shots and finished with three points. He has to better read Tim Duncan, who usually was the roaming defender for the Spurs, helping out on Bryant and O'Neal. If Horry and the other Laker power forwards cut to the rim when San Antonio double-teams O'Neal, they will have a free path to the rim. Defensively, the Lakers have to do a better job defending one on one.

SAN ANTONIO'S MOVE -- Although the Spurs won, they did not play well offensively. To help offset the lack of production by starters Tony Parker, Bruce Bowen and Stephen Jackson, who combined for only 17 points, the Spurs got a boost from reserve Manu Ginobili (15 points, six rebounds and four steals). Ginobili hurt the Lakers with his aggressiveness, so expect him to play at least 30 minutes again tonight.

San Antonio was effective defending the Lakers' pick-and-roll plays, rotating as a unit. Duncan and Rose were great in stepping out on picks and then getting back to the players they were defending. Parker and Speedy Claxton did their part by staying close to Derek Fisher and Brian Shaw, while Bowen and Ginobili made Bryant work for every shot. If the Spurs keep this up tonight, they'll have a good shot at winning the first two games.

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