NBA: Star trio lead Spurs over depleted Lakers
SAN ANTONIO, Texas— San Antonio’s star trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combined for 53 points Sunday to lead the Spurs to a 91-79 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in their NBA playoff opener.
Duncan posted the 139th playoff double-double of his career with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
France’s Parker added 18 points and eight assists and also made three steals while Argentina’s Ginobili, showing no sign of the hamstring strain that sidelined him late in the regular season, contributed 18 points off the bench.
The result in the first game of the best-of-seven Western Conference series was what many expected after the Lakers lost superstar Kobe Bryant to a torn Achilles tendon the week before the playoffs began.
The Lakers were the last team to clinch a post-season berth. They managed to claim the seventh seed in the West, setting up the clash with San Antonio and avoiding top seeded Oklahoma City.
But even with point guard Steve Nash back from an extended injury absence the Lakers clearly have a mountainous task ahead of them.
Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol did what they could. Howard scored 20 points with 15 rebounds and Gasol delivered 16 points, 16 rebounds and six assists.
Nash scored 16 points in 29 minutes on the floor, but the Lakers couldn’t overcome 18 turnovers and lackluster 3-of-15 shooting from three-point range.
The game was the first of two Western Conference openers on Sunday’s slate, with the Thunder hosting the Houston Rockets in Oklahoma City.
The Thunder are trying to get back to the NBA Finals for a second straight year, after falling to Eastern Conference champions Miami in last year’s championship series.
In the Rockets they’ll face an offensively minded team, who are eager to make the most of their first playoff appearance after a three-year drought.
Oklahoma City will see a familiar face in the Rockets lineup, as All-Star guard James Harden- a former favorite of Thunder fans— has become a key player for Houston since he was traded prior to the start of the season.
Harden, who finished the fifth in the NBA in scoring with an average of 25.9 points per game, said he was ready to take on some old comrades.
“It comes with the package,” he said. “I have to do a good job of handling it well, and making sure I’m doing the right things. Obviously I’m new to this, so I might make some mistakes, but I just have to continue to work at it.”
Thunder coach Scott Brooks has preached defense against the Rockets, but the Thunder boast a potent offense themselves.
Kevin Durant was second in the league in scoring with 28.1 points per game and Russell Westbrook followed with 23.2 points per game.