Ginobili overcomes injuries to pace Spurs past Lakers

Posted Sunday, Apr. 21, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Seemingly patched up and stitched up for weeks because of multiple injuries, Manu Ginobili unwrapped the duct tape from his sore body Sunday and led the San Antonio Spurs past the Los Angeles Lakers 91-79 in the opener of a best-of-seven first-round playoff series at the AT&T Center.

Game 2 will be here Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.

The injury-prone Ginobili apparently got tired of the Spurs and Lakers playing a virtual game of tag, as neither team established much separation. The 11-year veteran took matters into his own hands, scoring eight straight points in a span of 1 minute, 23 seconds late in the third period that widened the Spurs’ lead from 62-55 to 70-57.

The final nail came when Ginobili decided not to take the last shot of the third quarter. Instead, he drilled a 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left, which stunned the listless Lakers.

“Some players do take some risks because we believe that we need something to get us going,” said Ginobili, who scored 18 points on 6 of 13 shooting. “I know I’m not in my best shape both physically and basketball-wise.

“But I thought I had a little window there to try to risk, and it went good.”

Ginobili missed nine straight games with a strained right hamstring before playing 12 meaningless minutes last Wednesday in the regular-season finale against Minnesota. The Spurs, who shot just 37.6 percent from the field, needed every bit of the 19 minutes he was able to give them Sunday.

“He does what he does,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “He makes big shots, he creates problems for the opponent and he’s got a great will, a great desire.”

The Lakers, who trailed 45-37 at intermission and shot 41.1 percent from the field, never recovered from Ginobili’s scoring barrage. They also didn’t have much scoring punch of their own since their leading scorer, Kobe Bryant, is out for the remainder of the season with a torn Achilles’ tendon.

With no Bryant to worry about, the Spurs forced Steve Blake, Metta World Peace and Steve Nash into shooting a combined 13 of 37 from the field and scoring only 33 points.

“I thought the defense was solid tonight,” Gregg Popovich said. “I thought tonight was the best defense we’ve played in three or four weeks.”

It helped that the Spurs’ bench outscored the Lakers reserves 40-10. Also, the Lakers accumulated twice as many turnovers, 18, as the Spurs, who got 17 points and 10 boards from Tim Duncan.

“We know if we are going to beat the Lakers we are going to have to play our best defense,” said guard Tony Parker, who finished with 18 points, eight assists and three steals. “Tonight, that is what we did.”

Faith in Cuban

Lakers forward Antawn Jamison believes it’s only a matter of time before owner Mark Cuban has the Dallas Mavericks back on top of the basketball world.

“I don’t ever count Mark out,” said Jamison, who played the 2003-04 season for Cuban and the Mavs. “That little rascal’s got something up his sleeves.

“You know him. He’s sitting there watching the playoffs like, ‘OK, they think I’m done.’”

The Mavs were 41-41 and missed the playoffs this season for the first time since the 1999-2000 campaign. Jamison attributes that to all the new players Cuban brought in and the 29 games Dirk Nowitzki missed because of injuries.

“Two years ago they were the champs and now they didn’t make the playoffs,” Jamison said. “But that’s not doing anything but adding fuel to the fire with Mark [Cuban].

“He’s going to figure it out, he’s going to get them even tougher next year. In the next couple of years they’re going to be another powerhouse — like always.”

Bryant tweets advice

Guard Kobe Bryant used his Twitter account to tweet during Sunday’s game that the Lakers needed to get the ball inside to Dwight Howard (20 points, 15 rebounds) and Pau Gasol (16 points, 16 rebounds).

Asked about that, Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said: “Yeah, that’s what we did. It’s great to have that commentary.

“He’s a fan and you [media] guys put a little more importance on that kind of a fan, but he’s a fan.’’

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

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