Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening home contest against San Antonio, the Lakers looking for a fifth straight victory without Kobe Bryant, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Sessions, Ebanks, World Peace, Gasol and Bynum
Spurs: T. Parker, D. Green, K. Leonard, T. Duncan, T. Splitter*
*Looking to better match up with the Lakers, Gregg Popovich started Brazilian Tiago Splitter instead of DeJuan Blair, going from 6-7 to 6-11.
9:16 The Lakers’ defense started very strong, allowing only a Parker jumper in the first four minutes while forcing three turnovers, while making 4 of 6 shots on the other end to take an early 8-2 lead. However, Tony Parker responded with consecutive jumpers that already gave him more field goals (3) than he managed against the Lakers in LAL’s win last week at San Antonio (2 for 12).
5:15 The Spurs continued to make jump shots, Parker hitting again and rookie Kawhi Leonard dropping a patented San Antonio corner three to give the Spurs their first lead at 15-13, which Gasol tied moments later with a long two-point jumper. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich explained before the game (among other things) why Gasol’s ability to shoot makes it so tough on defenses.
0:00 The Spurs played much more like the Spurs than they did in their home game against L.A., scoring 27 points on 12 of 21 field goals (57.1 percent), but they still had no answer for Bynum (not that anyone has of late), the center scoring 13 points on 6 of 9 field goals to put L.A. up 28-27 after one. P.S.: celeb watch included Jack, Denzel, Justin Bieber and Salma Hayek.
6:44 Gasol continued his excellent all-around play in Bryant’s absence by spurring a 6-0 run to tie the game at 37 all by himself, hitting two jumpers, swatting Duncan’s shot and finding Steve Blake for a jumper, his fourth assist to go with five boards and eight points.
3:00 The wheels came off rather suddenly for L.A., who inexplicably turned the ball over on five of six trips down the floor, the Spurs scoring every time, rolling off an 16-0 run to take a 57-41 lead. San Antonio did pick up its defensive pressure, but the turnovers were largely unforced, varying from overthrown passes to mishandled passes and everything in between. By halftime, the score was 63-47, only because Sessions got a buzzer-beating layup to fall when San Antonio finally missed a shot.
0:00 During those final six minutes, the Lakers allowed the Spurs to hit 11 consecutive shots, the transition defense terrible after so many turnovers. They seemed almost confused at what was going on, having really controlled each of their four consecutive wins since Bryant’s been out, and didn’t respond to San Antonio’s pressure in the least. Parker led the way with 19 points on 9 of 13 field goals.
11:00 Things got worse quickly for the Lakers out of halftime, the Spurs smelling blood and rolling off a quick 7-0 run to blow things open at 70-47, with Parker’s 21 points looking nice alongside his nine assists.
5:00 An 11-4 run almost became 13-4, but Bynum missed a bunny at the rim that would have trimmed the Spurs lead to 14. Instead, Ginobili scored in transition, San Antonio with 18 fast break points, to push the lead back to 18. Moments later, it was back to 22 when Duncan dunked hard with one hand, making it 82-60. Parker was up to 11 assists with his 25 points on 12 of 18 field goals, dominating the Lakers from his point guard spot.
0:00 Parker stayed unconscious, draining two more jumpers to reach 29 points on 14 of 20 field goals, plus 13 assists for good measure. Don’t leave him too far down your MVP ballots, folks. The Spurs, as such, took a 91-70 lead into the fourth.
9:01 A 7-0 push to start the fourth, capped by a Barnes triple, again cut San Antonio’s lead to 14, but the climb up the mountain remained steep as the clock became an increasingly annoying enemy for the Lakers.
5:15 L.A. tried one last comeback attempt, again trimming the lead to 16, but it was all Spurs on this evening, the starters finally being pulled after a mini 6-0 run made it 105-83. Duncan had 19 points, eight boards and three assists, Ginobili 15 points, six boards and four assists and Parker his 29 and 13 in three quarters. Bynum had 21 and seven, Gasol 16, seven and five in the loss. The rubber match would come soon, on Friday in San Antonio, L.A. hoping to get Kobe back.
0:00 Your final: Spurs 112, Lakers 91. The team’s off to Golden State immediately after the whistle, so we’ll see you from Oakland tomorrow night on KCAL 9.