I’m going to write off the Hornets loss as a blessing in disguise. Why? Because the Lakers game now seems more like a game the Spurs will take seriously. And they have to. While the Lakers are going to be short-handed, they are still dangerous. Any team with Nash and Kobe is a team that you don’t want to let hang around close until the 4th. Even though on paper, it looks like a mismatch, this is an important game for the Spurs.
1. Song of the Game: AWOLNation, “Sail”
I love this song. I have no idea what it’s about or why I like it. But I do. It’s a total hybridized, genre-splitting mess of a song that come out perfectly. The rest of the album sounds like this song, but only in parts. The other tracks are more Muse and a little less Skrillex than this.
There is no Spurs tie-in, unless you were hoping I’d say the Spurs were going to “sail” in the game tonight. If you were, you deserve the groan that you are undoubtedly now making.
2. Who Has to Be Stopped: Kobe
Because I’m not sure who else there is. Really.
3. Who Has to Go Off: Danny and Kawhi
Just a note: Kobe is 4th in the league at minutes played, averaging almost 40 per game. I know he’s not yet Tim’s age, but that’s a lot for a guy who is not just playing a lot, but asked to carry an entire team for substantial stretches. If you want Kobe’s jumpers to fall short in the 4th, you have to make him work in the first 3. To do that, Danny Green, whom Kobe will probably guard for part of the game, needs to be much bigger than his 0-fer in New Orleans. Kawhi, the other candidate for Kobe to guard, could frustrate Kobe on both ends with a solid rebounding performance and by being aggressive going to the basket.
I watched a chunk of the Rockets-Lakers game last night and here’s was my summary: Kobe looked exhausted by the end of the game. My instruction to whomever he guards to night is to wear him out.
4. And the Crystal Ball Says….: Spurs, 95; Lakers, 88.
I think this is a closer game than I’d like it to be, in spite of a myriad of factors that might point to a Spur blowout or at least a comfortable win. This is a game the Spurs bigs should be able to dominate, which may mean a lower score and slower pace than we are used to.
5. I’m Wrong If….: B2B Takes a Toll
The Lakers ran a lot in Houston last night, trying to keep up with James Harden and Jeremy Lin, in a high pace game (as all with Houston are). If their legs are as dead as they might be, this could be over quickly.
6. Odds and Ends
I’ll be curious to see if Pop is done with the lineup shuffling. As Wayne’s post earlier today highlights, the offense in general is struggling and the bench offense is really struggling. Some of slide seems to coincide with Splitter’s move to the starting lineup. I haven’t done the math, but I’m betting that has meant fewer minutes together with Manu and Splitter, which could certainly have an impact on offensive efficiency. The good news? It’s early. There’s plenty of time to work through these issues.
Spurs rumors were flying the past two days about personnel. First came rumors yesterday that the Spurs were one of a number of teams interested in a now-healthy Donte Greene, former Kings forward. Then, today, Twitter blew up after an Internet report that the Spurs signed Aron Baynes, a 7-footer from Australia (or New Zealand, depending on which source you saw). Not sure what this means, other than this: DeJuan Blair has no future in San Antonio past this season (and maybe past the almost-certain trade for a 2nd round pick sometime between now and the deadline). He registered a DNP in a number of the recent blowouts and when he did play, he took those kinds of shots that make Pop’s head explode. I like DJB and love the way he reshaped his body after coming into the league. But somehow, his game disappeared with the extra weight. He’s stopped rebounding and basically forgot what it was that made him a starter. I don’t know how long it’s going be (because I can see them keeping him through the season), but his days as a Spur are numbered.