Lakers guard Steve Blake, center, is surrounded by San Antonio Spurs defenders. (Eric Gay / Associated Press )
The Lakers (45-37) lost Game 1 of their first-round matchup against the San Antonio Spurs (58-24) on Sunday, 91-79. The Spurs held home court, winning the first and third periods by a total of 14 points.
While Dwight Howard (8-12 shooting for 20 points) and Pau Gasol (7-16, 16 points) had efficient shooting nights, the rest of the Lakers combined to hit 33.3% from the field. Howard and Gasol were battling multiple defenders in the paint for most of the game, turning the ball over a total of 10 times.
If the Lakers can get something going from the outside, they may have a chance to go back to Staples Center for Game 3 with home court advantage.
San Antonio shot just 37.6% from the field. The Lakers need that same level of effort defensively if they hope to get the upset.
Tim Duncan is still one of the biggest problems for the Lakers, especially defensively. He'll guard both Howard and Gasol over the course of a game. Getting him into foul trouble (no easy task) would be a boon for the Lakers.
If Gasol and/or Howard can defend Duncan without requiring help from their teammates, the more difficult the game can be for the San Antonio shooters.
In Game 1 the Spurs shot 37.6% and Duncan had one assist with three turnovers. They also held him to 17 points on 6-15 shooting.
The game plan on Duncan worked, but if the Lakers can't hit outside shots -- they've got bigger issues.
Tony Parker was able to create for his teammates via penetration, dishing eight assists. Parker shot just 8-21 from the field with 18 points to show for it. The Lakers can live with those numbers.
If Duncan and Parker put up the exact same stats on Wednesday as they did Sunday, the Lakers will have another chance to win -- if they can score.
The real X-factor was Manu Ginobili who opened up the game with a pair of three-pointers late in the third. He scored 18 points on 6-13 shooting just 19 minutes. His offense was the difference on Sunday.
The Lakers need players like Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Antawn Jamison, Jodie Meeks (who is hoping to play through a sprained ankle), Metta World Peace, Earl Clark and Darius Morris to hit from the outside.
With Howard and Gasol, the Lakers have two powerful weapons against the Spurs. Without Kobe Bryant (Achilles), the team needs to open up the floor to give the two bigs room to work with.
The Spurs won't give the game to the Lakers. They're not a team that shows up over-confident and unprepared.
The Lakers showed they can keep the San Antonio offense (somewhat) under wraps. If they can do the same on Wednesday, and hit their shots, the series may go back to Staples Center tied at 1-1