May 24, 2008
Fast Breaks: Spurs-Lakers
By Arash Markazi
Game 2   Leaders
Lakers lead series 2-0   Points Rebounds Assists
101 71
It's Gotta Be The Shoes
As Lamar Odom (right) scribbled the names of his lost loved ones on his shoes as he does before every game -- writing "Cathy" in honor of his mother on the toe and "Grandma" and "Baby J" in honor of his infant son, Jayden, on each side -- he joked that maybe wearing Kobe Bryant's new shoe for the first time would rub some MVP goodness on him. It may not have been the shoes, but Odom certainly looked like an MVP in Game 2 as he scored 20 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked a game-high four shots. "I was feeding off my teammates," said Odom. "I was catching the ball, getting in scoring position, trying to be as aggressive as possible. When I get in the game, it seems my team gets into it. They cheer for me and they keep me going."

Welcome Back
While many focused on Bryant's passiveness in the first half of Game 1, where he scored only 2 points on three attempts, the bigger story was the game-long disappearance of Odom and Derek Fisher, who were 4-of-21 shooting for 12 combined points. They nearly equaled their output in the first quarter in Game 2, scoring 11 points and giving the Lakers an early lead they would never relinquish. They finished with 31 points, 13 rebounds and 5 assists. "I think Derek had good looks on Wednesday night but I think Lamar's shot was better," said Phil Jackson. "We needed both of them to play that kind of game."

The Big Two
The Spurs' "Big Three" may have to be re-named the "Big Two" if Manu Ginobli continues to play like this. After a dismal performance in Game 1 where he scored 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting and committing 4 turnovers, Ginobli responded with an equally unimpressive stat line of 7 points on 2-of-8 shooting and was held scoreless in the first half, after missing his first four shots. Ginobli, who is nursing a sprained left ankle, has not only struggled offensively but has been ineffective defensively, unable to stay in front of his man, allowing Sasha Vujacic to score 17 points in the last two games. "There was some thought of shutting him down for the game," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "We knew [the injury] would catch up this game. We thought our last game was our best shot to get something here and just dig down and do it after seven games."

Bench Warmers
With fatigue clearly a factor in the Spurs' dreadful finish in Game 1 and continued into Game 2, Popovich attempted to go to his bench early in the game to prevent that. He played Robert Horry and Jacque Vaughn as much in the first quarter of Game 2 as they played all night Wednesday. Despite the extended playing time, neither was able to give the Spurs a boost as they shot 2-of-9 (with Horry going 0-for-5) for 4 points and furthered the belief that their bench, which scored 26 points, mostly in garbage time, won't be able to keep up with arguably the deepest team in the league. The Lakers' bench in contrast scored 34 points, led by Jordan Farmar, who broke out of his playoff funk for 14 points. "I think the common denominator, bottom line really isn't Xs and Os," said Popovich. "We have to have more people playing better to get this done."

Questions Anyone?
The coaches have gotten off surprisingly easy during their press conferences during the playoffs. While Jackson and Popovich usually hold about 10-minute sessions with the media before games, both coaches press conferences the past two games have run less than 3 minutes and Jackson even jokingly got up after no one asked him a question for a few seconds after the game. "You were asleep for the past half hour," said Jackson as he came back to the podium.

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