Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Sunday evening road contest at San Antonio, the Lakers looking for their seventh straight win out of the All-Star break against the team with the league’s best record, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Spurs: T. Parker, M. Ginobili, R. Jefferson, D. Blair, T. Duncan
5:21 The first six minutes were excellent for the Lakers, who showed playoff-type focus at both ends of the floor to open an early double-digit lead while controlling the backboards at both ends (12-6). Andrew Bynum was particularly effective, grabbing eight rebounds and swatting two shots while deterring Tony Parker’s frequent forays into the paint.
4:22 Artest hit a three-pointer just after Lamar Odom nailed his first shot off the bench, also from three, to quickly open a 22-10 lead for the visitors. Matt Bonner, who nailed four threes against Miami in San Antonio’s last game in the first quarter alone, nailed his first triple off the bench, but two more buckets for L.A. followed to make it 26-13 for the twice defending champs.
1:13 Twice-defending champions, indeed. The Lakers could not miss on offense, Gasol’s jumper making it 34-13 with L.A. shooting 65 percent, just a possession after Shannon Brown hung in the air for about four seconds before slamming home a ridiculous one-hand dunk. The early statement that things still go through the Lakers in the West was made, the question being if they could keep it up.
11:05 After a quarter in which the Lakers made almost everything to take a 34-13 lead, Gasol opened his team’s scoring in the second with a corner three-pointer, and Odom followed with a layup to counter two Spurs buckets and increase the lead to 22 points.
6:30 The foot had yet to come off the pedal, with Gasol reaching 15 points on an and-1 created by a tip out from Matt Barnes, playing in his first game since Jan. 7. It was the fourth rebound in six minutes for Barnes, one of the league’s better boarders from the small forward position. Odom had also been key, scoring seven points with four assists to help maintain a 51-26 lead.
3:00 The Spurs were still working hard on both ends, but L.A.’s execution was as on point as at any time during the 2010-11 season, the lead increasing to 58-32 on a corner triple from Bryant, enough to match Gasol’s 15 points plus five boards and three assists.
0:00 After the best half in recent memory, and coming against a team with 22 straight home wins, the Lakers held a 65-37 lead. The Lakers grabbed eight more rebounds (28-20), had eight more assists (16-8), turned the ball over four fewer times (2-6) and shot 56 percent to San Antonio’s 34.8 percent.
10:40 Bynum’s ninth rebound of the game got Bryant a second look at a baseline jumper, which he swished before glancing over at the Spurs’ bench. Bynum had opened the half with a dunk, just his second field goal attempt of the game, as he continued to do exactly what his coaches asked with his focus centered on defense (two blocks, several drives thwarted) and rebounding (10). The lead was at that point a game-high 32 points.
5:50 More Bynum. This time swatting Parker’s shot in the paint a possession after he grabbed his game-high 14th rebound in just 19 minutes. The big, young center was completely locking down the paint, and L.A. held its lead at 30.
2:19 The Spurs finally got a lil’ something going on offense as George Hill scored five points and Steve Novak added a three in a two-minute stretch, but Bryant answered with five straight points on the other end with a tough J and and-1 layup off his own steal to keep L.A. up 29. Nothing had changed from halftime, L.A.’s defensive effort nearly as good as the Spurs managed only 15 points.
12:00 Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich has always been one to remove his best players from games quite early if a win seemed in doubt, and he appeared to be following suit by opening the fourth quarter with George Hill, Gary Neal, Steve Novak, James Anderson and Tiago Splitter. Phil Jackson, meanwhile, left Gasol in alongside Odom and the three B’s.
5:57 After three really solid quarters of D, the Lakers backed off a bit, and Popovich’s subs took advantage to go on a 13-6 run that cut L.A.’s lead to 22. To ensure no further slippage, Jackson put Bryant and Fisher in alongside Brown, Odom and Bynum.
2:43 The lead was cut down … but just by two points, at 93-73. Some may question why Jackson would put his vets back in with the game all but clinched (and several did on Twitter), but with 11 championship rings, Jackson seems to know what he’s doing as far as trying to carry positive momentum forward, particularly on an important road trip. We’d be pretty silly to question P-Jax.
0:00 San Antonio’s subs somehow managed to score 31 points in the fourth as the Lakers finally let up on defense, but the margin was still 16 at the game’s conclusion. Your postgame numbers tell more of the story:
26 Points for Kobe Bryant to lead all scorers. Bryant hit 12-of-25 field goals, and added seven boards with five assists, his intensity setting the tone throughout the game for L.A.
17 Rebounds grabbed by Andrew Bynum to match his season-high 17 in L.A.’s previous game vs. Charlotte. Bynum was terrific defensively throughout the game, blocking three shots and changing a bevy of other shots, largely erasing Tony Parker’s penetration.
13 Points mustered by the Spurs in the first quarter, with LAL flying around defensively and shooting lights out at the other end to take a 34-13 lead out of the period, setting a tone that would prevail throughout the game.
8 Turnovers, a very acceptably low number for the Lakers.
6 Assists for Lamar Odom to lead the Lakers. He added 15 points and four boards, but was especially effective moving the basketball from a guard spot of the triangle offense. Odom also effectively limited Spurs’ sub Matt Bonner, who made just 1-of-5 shots after hitting four threes in the first quarter alone of S.A.’s blowout of Miami in their last game.