With offense absent, Lakers bank on defense to challenge Spurs

Posted Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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The one stunning development that jumped off the screen during the Los Angeles Lakers’ 91-79 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series Sunday was the lack of offense generated by LA.

Except for the 78 points Boston scored in a seven-point Game 1 loss to the New York Knicks, the Lakers’ 79 points were the fewest among the 10 games already played in the first round of the playoffs. Obviously if the Lakers keep up that trend, they won’t last very long in this postseason.

“We just missed shots – shots we normally make,” said Lakers center Dwight Howard, who was 8 of 12 from the field in the opener. “We’ve just got to be confident in making those shots when we shoot them, even if we do miss a couple of shots, and we’ll be fine.”

The Lakers were 30 of 73 from the field Sunday, including 3 of 15 from 3-point range.

Obviously, the absence of Kobe Bryant, out with a season-ending torn Achilles tendon, has contributed to the Lakers’ offensive slowdown. But since Bryant isn’t coming back through that door, the Lakers must find a way to make up for his 27.3 points per game.

But the Lakers don’t seem too concerned about points heading into Game 2, which tips off at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at San Antonio’s AT&T Center.

“I think the most important thing is not to go overboard on things because since Kobe’s been gone we have been able to get offense,” forward Antawn Jamison said. “It just so happens that in Game 1 we struggled a little bit.

“We got quality looks, we just couldn’t get them to convert. And that’s the thing, especially in the playoffs, is that it’s going to be times when the ball doesn’t go in offensively, but the one thing you really have to rely on is defense.”

Howard agreed with Jamison.

“Scoring is not the issue,” Howard said. “Defense wins. The biggest thing for us is just playing the right way on the defensive end and the offense will come.”

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni pointed to the 18 turnovers his team committed in Game 1 as an element that plagued his squad.

“We’ve got to make shots,” D’Antoni said. “But we also have to eliminate the 18 turnovers and try to get in a little bit more of a flow, and I think we’ll get there.

“A lot of it is just not being familiar with what we’re trying to do, not being in the right spots, and a lot of it is they’re active and they’re good. But we have to be a little bit smoother in what we’re doing.”

Howard led the Lakers in Sunday’s game with 20 points, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash each scored 16, and Steve Blake added 12. However, the other five Lakers who played combined for just 15 points on 4-of-17 shooting, including just 10 points from the bench.

The Lakers scored 100-plus points in 10 of the 11 games prior to Bryant’s injury. But the most they’ve scored in the three games since his departure was 99 — and it took an overtime game last Wednesday against Houston to reach that total.

“We understand that defense is going to win it for us,’’ Howard said. “We’re not a team that’s going to go out and everybody has 30 points, so we got to do it on the defensive end.

“We know how to play basketball. We just got to go out there and play, and play hard, and me and Pau have to dominate in the paint and we should win.”

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice

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