Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening contest against San Antonio, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Morris, Bryant, World Peace, Gasol, Howard
Spurs: T. Parker, D. Green, K. Leonard, T. Duncan, T. Splitter
8:22 After the Lakers endured a 10-0 run from the Spurs, five straight points from Metta World Peace (a three, then two free throws), then a Gasol jumper and Howard alley-oop dunk had the Lakers suddenly up 12-10. With Steve Nash [leg] and Steve Blake [strained abdominal] out injured, Darius Morris had a tough assignment with the dynamic Tony Parker, but added 1 of 2 free throws to cap a 10-0 run of their own.
0:00 To take a 24-18 lead out of the first quarter was an impressive feat for the Lakers considering they fell behind 10-2 after just two-and-a-half minutes, and it might have been an eight or 10 point lead had Jordan Hill not missed two layups, the second at the buzzer after Gasol found him in transition. Both teams had four turnovers in the period, L.A. shooting 45 percent to SAS’s 36.4 percent. Bryant had 9 points to lead all scorers.
6:06 SAS outscored LAL 9-4 to start the 2nd, until Chris Duhon drained a wide-open 3 (he hit 42% from deep last year) to put LAL up 31-29. Duhon also hit a wing jumper, his five points off the pine helping what was an otherwise poor start to the second on O (5 turnovers in six minutes).
0:00 Bryant was terrific in the half, not only leading the way with 15 points on 7 of 10 field goals, but also totaling five assists while essentially running the show for L.A. Bernie Bickerstaff said his essential plan as interim coach was to “get out of the way” and let Kobe make plays, and that’s what he did. In the past two wins, Bryant totaled 13 assists, and was on his way to double digits in this one. The final two buckets of the half both came on Lakers offensive boards, Howard and Hill cleaning up misses to make it a 43-38 margin at the break.
4:27 A quick 7-0 Spurs run amidst Lakers turnovers (Howard had his fifth) was cut by Bryant’s 10th make in 15 attempts, but San Antonio kept a 52-51 lead. Howard may have been struggling on O, but he was impressive on D, blocking three shots and altering several more (Duncan 5 of 12).
0:00 A quarter of runs continued as L.A. used a 7-0 spurt to go up five, only to endure a 7-1 Spurs burst to close the quarter, allowing San Antonio a 60-59 lead heading into the final quarter. L.A.’s offense had struggled without Bryant on the floor, and would need some production from the perimeter as he rested to open the fourth. The duo of Meeks and Duhon had struggled to produce good shots in their 23 combined minutes to that point.
6:00 Kobe continued his dominant night by climbing up to 28 points on an uber-efficient 12 of 18 FG’s, improving his season FG percentage to 56 percent (he shot 43 percent last season). His efforts had the game tied at 71, and L.A. reclaimed the lead when Hill got a baby hook to drop before being replaced by Gasol for the final 4:52. Hill had eight points and six boards in his 18 minutes. And by the way, Bryant was also playing point guard, MWP at the two and Antawn Jamison at the three.
1:47 Some big shot making for both teams as Parker followed his own missed jumper with an improbable put back, was countered by Jamison’s corner three, only to see Duncan hit a jumper of his own to make it 79-78 San Antonio.
0:00 Things looked promising for the Lakers as Gasol hit two free throws and then an elbow jumper to put his team up 82-79 with 1:03 to play. However, Duncan countered with a short hook, MWP missed a wide open corner three and the Spurs ran a play out of a time out to get Danny Green a three … swish. That put the Spurs up two with 10 seconds to play, and the Lakers tried to run a two-man game play with Gasol and Kobe. When San Antonio flooded to Bryant, Gasol took a three from the corner that came off, Howard and MWP unable to wrestle the loose ball away from Tiago Splitter as the clocked ticked 0.0.
Certainly a tough loss for the Lakers, who had built some momentum at home, though despite missing a bevy of open looks, did play with good energy. They’ll have two days off now as new head coach Mike D’Antoni gets to town in advance of Friday’s game against Phoenix. We’ll see you there.