May 26, 2008
Fast Breaks: Spurs-Lakers
By Arash Markazi
Game 3   Leaders
Lakers lead series 2-1   Points Rebounds Assists
84 103
Ginobili, Bryant
Stud of the Night
It's easy to forget about Tim Duncan sometimes, considering his mind-numbingly effective style in dominating the league for the past decade. Perhaps the greatest compliment the future Hall of Famer could receive is that he scored 22 points, grabbed 21 rebounds and dished out a team-high five assists and no one talked about him after the game. In fact, even when Duncan was at the podium during the post-game press conference, no one asked about his game as he was questioned about Manu Ginobili (right) three times and the ineffectiveness of the Lakers twice. When you can have a 20/20 night and no one bats an eye, that says something. "We barely talk about him and then you look at the stat sheet and see he had a good game," said Tony Parker. "It's always like that with him."

Dud of the Night
Once again Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher, the bedrock of the Lakers' locker room, failed to do anything against the Spurs as they combined for only nine points, shooting 4-of-21. While Odom and Fisher combined for 31 points in Game 2 and set the tone early, their performance on Sunday was similar to Game 1, when they combined for only 12 points. In both Games 1 and 3, Fisher failed to score in the first half and was ineffective throughout. "We didn't move the ball very well," said Fisher. "We did have some decent opportunities inside, but those shots didn't go in."

Under the Radar
After a dreadful performance in the last series against Utah in which he made only one of his first 17 shots, Lakers guard Jordan Farmar has started to resume his role as a solid role player. He scored 10 points off the bench and has produced 32 points in the series. "The past, maybe, week and a half, I've been feeling really good about my game," said Farmar. "I've been having great practices and I've been playing good basketball in them. I was just getting back to playing the way I know how to play."

Turning Point
A driving layup by Kobe Bryant midway through the second quarter seemed to take the air out of the AT&T Center. It wasn't so much that the Lakers had taken a slim 28-27 lead but it appeared Bryant was about to impose his will on the game, as he went to the basket untouched. Ginobili, however, responded with back-to-back three-pointers that not only gave San Antonio lead and got the crowd into the game but also started a 22-11 run that gave the Spurs a 10-point halftime they would never relinquish.

Courtside Confidential
The Spurs have one of the best home-court advantages in the league and have won 13 straight home playoff games dating back to last season. Part of that advantage, at least come playoff time, is configuration of the arena. The visiting locker room is farther away from an entrance to the court than almost any other arena in the league. It's also about a 10-minute walk to the press room -- which is adjacent to the Spurs' locker room. The distance forced Phil Jackson to hop on the back of a golf cart for his pre-game chat with the media, which he did standing up. The raised chair and podium he usually enjoys at home due to his surgically repaired hip were nowhere to be found.

Stat of the Night
The Spurs' bench outscored the Lakers' reserves 41-21, with 30 from Ginobili. The L.A. bench, which had outscored the Spurs' 55-37 in the first two games, was one of the main reasons the Lakers found themselves up 2-0. On Sunday, the bench players were nonexistent outside of Farmar's 10 points. The Lakers also connected on just eight of their 17 free throws, a Shaq-like performance from a team that usually capitalizes on trips to the charity stripe. "It was disappointing," said Bryant. "You have easy opportunities like that, you want to knock them down."

Looking Ahead
The Lakers knew they weren't going to sweep the Spurs. Their hope was to get a split in San Antonio and hopefully close out the series in Game 5 back in Los Angeles. But given that the Spurs came back from an 0-2 deficit to defeat the Hornets in the semis, Game 4 will be pivotal in determining how good (and long) this series will be. For what it's worth, Bryant believes the Lakers' worst loss of these playoffs will help the team regroup. "I think we grew up a lot tonight," he said. "We have to understand the sense of urgency and the type of energy that we have to play with and come back on Tuesday ready to do that."


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