Cory Joseph #5 of the San Antonio Spurs drives to the basket past Pau Gasol (L) #16 and Dwight Howard #12 of the Los Angeles Lakers for a layup in the second half during Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on April 26, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. The Spurs defeated the Lakers 120-89.
When Friday night’s Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs game tipped off at Staples Center, the Lakers had more people dressed in suits than players sitting on the bench. Along with five assistants, Jodie Meeks, Steve Blake, and Steve Nash were dressed in suits. Kobe Bryant was somewhere in the locker room receiving treatment, and only six Lakers reserves were available to play.
The Spurs did not show mercy and led by as many as 18 points in the first half.
Metta World Peace had fluid drained from his knee earlier in the morning, and before the game, he revealed that he probably would not be playing if the team was already depleted beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. However, World Peace suited up and went for it. His effort was valiant, but even his incredible mental strength could not overcome the physical reality of his injury.
World Peace did not play the entire second half, and Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni revealed that it was a coach’s call. If that was not enough, Andrew Goudelock suffered some cramping late in the third quarter and had to leave the game, too.
Goudelock would recover to play the entire fourth quarter, and the NBA D-League Most Valuable Player was a bright spark for the Lakers. He poured in 12 points on 5-6 shooting in the second quarter and finished with 20 points on the night.
Ultimately, the Lakers were simply outmatched by a better team with better quality. The Spurs scored 120 points on the night. Even with an extra quarter, this Lakers team would have a difficult time hitting that mark.
As a reminder, Kobe Bryant is out with an Achilles injury, Steve Blake is out with a hamstring injury, Jodie Meeks is out with a sprained ankle, and Steve Nash is out with a hamstring injury. Adding World Peace to that list may not be official immediately, but it appears likely World Peace is next to be listed as unavailable.
With Jordan Hill just returning from injury, Pau Gasol not at 100 percent, and Dwight Howard fighting through a torn labrum and recovering from back surgery, the Lakers look more like members of a MASH unit than a basketball team.
However, the San Antonio Spurs were not sympathetic to the Lakers' shorthanded status, and that lack of sympathy will not change between Friday and Sunday.
Game 4 is on Sunday at Staples Center at 4 pm PT.