HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Few teams understand their deficiencies the way the San Antonio Spurs do.
When the man in charge, Gregg Popovich, is the commander of the real straight-talk express, that’s just the way it has to be. So we’re sure that Popovich didn’t spare anyone’s feelings after Andrew Bynum worked the Spurs for a career-high 30 rebounds in the Lakers’ win over the Spurs last night in San Antonio.
What had to be clear to Pop (and his team as well) is the fact that even in a lockout-shortened season that saw them make all the necessary tweaks to their own roster, the Lakers’ length and athleticism in the paint remains an issue for them.
Depending on how things break down in the playoffs, it might not matter much. But if these two powerhouse franchises do get together in the postseason, the Spurs will have some things to resolve against Bynum and Pau Gasol.
More from Tim Griffin of the Express News, who suggests that threats from teams with towering frontlines could be the Spurs downfall in the postseason (the Grizzlies series is obviously still fresh on the minds of folks in San Antonio):
The Spurs have been receiving a lot of favorable national buzz since the trade deadline after adding Stephen Jackson, Boris Diaw and Patty Mills to their rotation.
The extra players are nice, but they haven’t made the Spurs any better equipped to face the Los Angeles Lakers’ height that has always been their biggest advantage against them.
The Lakers took full advantage of their size in a resounding 98-84 victory over the Spurs Wednesday night.
With Kobe Bryant out of the lineup, the Lakers were forced to work inside-out with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum as their offensive focal points. In a weird way, it might have made them even better equipped to attack the Spurs than if Bryant was in the lineup.
The Lakers outrebounded them, 60-33. Bynum grabbed a career-best 30 caroms as it seemed like no Spur was able to contest him inside.
“I was just going to get them,” Bynum said. “They missed a lot of jump shots. They shot quickly and they were coming off the rim nice and soft.”
Gasol added 11 rebounds to go with 21 points as the Lakers limited the Spurs to one offensive rebound in the game. It came with 7:34 left in the third quarter when Tony Parker grabbed Kawhi Leonard’s missed 3-point shot.
“He got a lot of position rebounds,” Spurs captain Tim Duncan said about Bynum. “Obviously, he’s a big body. He ended with eight offensive rebounds, and that hurt us, but all in all we just didn’t play well enough.
“Our focus wasn’t there, for whatever reason. We just didn’t play well enough for long enough.”
Long enough is right!
Of course, there is no other team in the league that can boast the length, skill, size and ability the Lakers can in their dynamic big man duo. Gasol is still one of the best in the business and there is not a more skilled offensive low-post player in the game than Bynum, who is flourishing this season in spite of some his antics (including this almost gaffe Steve Blake saved him from last night).
Duncan, DeJuan Blair and Tiago Splitter should be fine against most anyone else. But against the Lakers, they’ll face the same issues that every other team in the league does when they have to go against Bynum and Gasol.