LOS ANGELES -- It has been said that as
There is some truth to that.
But if you want the whole truth, look no further than
How can I say a sixth man (albeit a great one) for most of the season is more valuable than a 10-time All-Star with three Finals MVPs on his résumé? Well, for starters I am in no way suggesting that Duncan is less valuable than Ginobili. Especially not in this series, where the Lakers'
It's just that in today's NBA, big men are rarely go-to players.
While Duncan is the most valuable Spur in the first three quarters, coach
Which is why it was especially tough for Popovich to see Ginobili's ineffectiveness in the fourth quarter Wednesday, when the Spurs scored 13 points on 3-for-21 shooting (14.3 percent) as the Lakers rallied to win the series opener 89-85. No one looked more fatigued from the Spurs' hard-fought, seven-game series with the Hornets -- not to mention having to spend Monday night sleeping on a plane after their flight from New Orleans was grounded -- than Ginobili, who also is dealing with a sore left ankle and a finger injury.
Ginobili took two shots in the fourth quarter and missed them both, including a potential go-ahead three-pointer with nine seconds remaining. Overall, he finished with 10 points (on 3-for-13 shooting) and committed four turnovers. His jumpers were short. His explosive first step wasn't there. He made Lakers guard
"I have a couple issues," Ginobili said, "but nothing that bad that can justify the way I played. I'm upset, but it's over, and now you've got to try to play better next game."
With only one day off between each game in the series, Ginobili won't have much time to get rejuvenated. The ankle injury, which dates back to Game 1 of the Spurs' first-round series against the Suns, is particularly troublesome. But if the Spurs want to salvage a split on the road after blowing a 20-point third-quarter deficit in Game 1, they need to find a way to reignite their spark plug.
"It is a kick in the gut for sure," Ginobili said of the Game 1 loss. "But we know we had a great game for 30 minutes. It is never enough against a great team like them. ... We just were not smart enough down the stretch to calm things down, be more patient and attack the seams better. We were always the same speed, no change of direction, no good execution. Those things have to get better."