Fri, Nov 1 Spurs-Lakers Preview
Staples Center - Los Angeles, California
By MATT BECKER, Associated Press Last Updated: Thu, Oct 31 3:33 ET
Gregg Popovich was thrilled with Boris Diaw's aggressiveness in the San Antonio Spurs' season-opening win.
The visiting Spurs might need Diaw to again step up offensively if Tim Duncan can't go Friday night against the Los Angeles Lakers in a rematch of a first-round playoff series.
Duncan left Wednesday's 101-94 win over Memphis with 10:50 remaining in the third quarter after taking an inadvertent elbow from Tony Allen. Duncan went to the locker room and did not return due to a chest contusion. He finished with three points and six rebounds in 17 minutes, and his status for Friday is uncertain.
Duncan averaged 17.5 points while Tony Parked scored a team-high 22.3 per game as the Spurs swept the Lakers in last season's playoffs.
Diaw came in when Duncan got hurt Wednesday and helped pick up the scoring void. He had 14 points, 12 coming after Duncan's injury.
Popovich was impressed with the way Diaw sought out shots, finishing 6 of 9 from the floor, after primarily being a pass-first player last season.
"He went and talked to a guru in India or something," Popovich said. "I don't know what he did, but he catches and shoots now. I got nothing to do with it. I've been begging him since he got here. His previous coaches have begged him. All of a sudden he's a catch-and-shoot guy. It's continued and we're happy about it."
Popovich would obviously like to see Diaw be in the fold offensively given the Spurs were 14-2 last season when he scored at least 10 points. Diaw, however, had little intentions to score in two games against the Lakers last season, attempting just four shots in 42 minutes.
Diaw was one of six Spurs to reach double figures Wednesday, with Kawhi Leonard also scoring 14 and Parker adding 13 points and nine assists. Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills each had 12, with Mills giving the team a huge lift off the bench. He made all four of his shots, including three 3-pointers.
"He was a great boost," Parker said. "He has been playing well the whole preseason. He knocked down 3s all preseason and that is what he did."
The Lakers (1-1) have also seen some solid contributions from their bench, which has been welcomed considering the starting five hasn't had much of an impact. After getting 76 points from its reserves in a 116-103 season-opening win over the Clippers on Tuesday, Los Angeles' bench scored 52 a night later, but it wasn't enough in a 125-94 loss at Golden State.
Jodie Meeks had 14 points and Pau Gasol scored 12 for Los Angeles, which shot 39.3 percent and trailed by as much as 35.
Expectations are low for the Lakers this season with Kobe Bryant nursing an Achilles injury and Dwight Howard and Metta World Peace leaving in the offseason.
"Growing pains," Meeks said. "We have a lot of young guys on this team, myself included. They're going to happen."
The Lakers now face the difficult task of getting their offense in sync against a Spurs team that overwhelmed the Grizzlies. San Antonio held Memphis to 2-of-18 shooting and seven points in the second quarter, a franchise low by an opponent for the period. The Spurs limited Los Angeles to an average of 85.3 points in last season's playoffs.
"They are a great team," Meeks said of San Antonio. "They have a great coach and a great organization. We just have to eliminate our mistakes because if you don't, they can really make you pay. It's going to be a tough game for us but we look forward to the challenge."
Los Angeles expects to have Steve Nash back after he sat out against the Warriors. Coach Mike D'Antoni intends to give his 39-year-old point guard rest on some, if not most, back-to-back games this season.