SAN ANTONIO – Even during the playoffs, the Spurs are usually relatively lighthearted and loose on gameday shootarounds.
The mood was a little more serious Wednesday morning when the Silver and Black convened at their practice facility one more time before hosting the Houston Rockets in Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal series tonight. Tipoff is at 8:30.
The Spurs’ banter was gone, replaced by the steely expressions of a team looking for redemption after getting blown out 126-99 in the series opener Monday night.
Tim Duncan dropped by the Spurs’ practice facility Tuesday and was seen chatting with LaMarcus Aldridge after the workout. Aldridge struggled mightily in the Game 1 loss, finishing with only four points on 2-of-7 shooting. Duncan wasn’t at the shootaround Wednesday.
Point guard Tony Parker and center Pau Gasol spoke with the media after the shootaround, and addressed some of the things the Spurs must do differently to stay with the Rockets in Game 2.
“That would help, make shots, that’s for sure,” Parker said, noting the best way to slow down freewheeling Houston offense that hit 22 of 50 3-pointers. “Control their fast pace. That’s something we can do a lot better, shot selection and control the tempo a little bit better.”
And what about the Spurs’ ball movement in Game 1?
“I felt like we rushed it a little bit because we went down early, so I think everybody was trying to be a little bit fast. Can’t do that against them. We need to go back to what we do, play at our pace and make sure we put the ball inside.”
Although the Spurs got torched for 126 points and were buried by an avalanche of 22 3-pointers, it was more their offense than their defense that got them in trouble in the series opener.
“We definitely understand how important it is to execute better offensively, so we don’t allow more transition opportunities because that’s where they are at their best,” Gasol said. “By the same token, we also understand that there are going to be mistakes. We’re going to have to run back, match up and communicate, and not allow easy shots. We have to be sharp and that’s the bottom line.”
Gasol, who won two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, was philosophical about the Rockets’ dominance in Game 1 and the challenge the Spurs face moving forward.
“They played a really good game,” Gasol said. “They made a lot of plays and we didn’t. We were sloppy. We didn’t execute. We didn’t play smart and they capitalized on a lot of our mistakes. We’ll give them credit. They got the first win. All we’re thinking about is playing our best, playing harder and smarter than them tonight and to win the ballgame and tie the series up.”
The series moves to Houston for Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Sunday.
The Rockets are 3-0 in playoff series against the Spurs. Before Monday night, the Interstate 10 rivals hadn't met in the postseason since 1995, when Houston beat San Antonio 4-2 in the Western Conference finals.
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