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Mark Heisler ON THE NBA

Spurs absorb every bit of loss

May 24, 2008|Mark Heisler

As expected, the Spurs shook off the effects of their devastating Game 1 loss, came back Friday night and gave their all.

It was a good thing. You'd hate to think what might have happened otherwise.

Professionalism may give a team its best chance . . . but then there's the little matter of who's best. As it wasn't close after the 5:31 mark of Game 1's third period when the Lakers rallied from a 20-point deficit, it wasn't any closer Friday night when they flattened the Spurs, 101-71.

Having outscored the Spurs 44-20 at the end of Game 1, the Lakers are now up 145-91 over the last 65:31.

The Spurs trail the series, 2-0. More to the point, they're out on their feet.

Their Big Three -- Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili -- shot a combined 14 for 37 Friday and the last of them left the court with 8:59 left.

Ginobili, once named El Contusion by teammate Brent Barry for the punishment he routinely takes barreling to the basket, has an ankle so sore, the Spurs might have shut him down for Game 2 if they had won Game 1.

As it was, Coach Gregg Popovich spent much of Friday night wondering when to lift the struggling Ginobili.

"You know, we wanted to take Manu out earlier," Popovich said, "and then he made a mistake and made two good moves in a row [in the third quarter] and then I got all excited again.

"Is this a run? Am I going to take him out now?"

It turned out it wasn't a run. Ginobili came out soon thereafter with seven points in 23 minutes . . . giving him 17 points in the series, while missing 16 of 21 shots.

Of course, with one day off after their Game 7 in New Orleans and games in this series every other day, the Spurs have a whole team they'd like to shut down.

"We thought it would catch up this game, not last game," Popovich said. "We thought our last game was our best shot to get something here and just dig down and do it after the seven games [against New Orleans].

"But obviously we didn't get that done and by the time the second half came tonight . . .

"So I think, you know, being out of gas had somewhat of an effect but not as much as the Lakers."

Ginobili's ankle, which he originally hurt in Game 1 of the Phoenix series, has gotten progressively worse, although before Game 2, Popovich said it wasn't a concern.

"There's no concern for the one reason that there's no time to be concerned, nobody cares and it's playoff time," Popovich said, "so you go play."

Making Game 1 perfect, Popovich got back to the team's Santa Monica hotel and found they didn't have the bottles of chardonnay and pinot noir he had ordered for the coaching staff's late dinner.

"That was worse than sitting on the airplane [in New Orleans], let me tell you," said Popovich between games. "We had wine on the airplane."

As it turned out, their entire trip to Los Angeles turned out to be a massive disappointment.

The Spurs blew Game 1. Then, worn down physically and perhaps emotionally, they were blown out in Game 2.

"We couldn't make a shot, we shot horrible, and today we didn't play as good defense," Ginobili said, "so if you do the math, I mean, there were not many chances of winning today."

On the bright side, they're going home as they did after the Hornets hammered them in Games 1 and 2 in the last series.

That's assuming there is a bright side, of course.

"I can't take that as something to make me feel better," Ginobili said. "We should have been at least 1-1, but it is what it is, so we've got to really step up, starting with me and try to get those two games at home.

"It's going to be really difficult because now they [Lakers] built confidence, they're playing great, so it's going to be even harder.

"But we still believe."

We hope they filled Popovich's wine order for the flight home late Friday. After this trip, he needed it.

--

mark.heisler@latimes.com

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