Ginobili Paces Spurs Over Lakers
San Antonio 90, L.A. Lakers 84
SAN ANTONIO, Nov. 29 (Ticker) -- Manu Ginobili and the San Antonio Spurs showed their offensive firepower early and their championship mettle late.
Ginobili scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds and Tim Duncan added 16 and nine as the Spurs held on for a 90-84 triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers.
"This is a good win for us," said Ginobili, who made 9-of-14 shots. "They just played better after the first quarter. They got some baskets and started to play more comfortable as the game went on."
Lakers coach Phil Jackson saw it somewhat differently.
"We got them mired into our level of basketball," he said. "They were playing way above us in that first quarter. We couldn't stay with them so we had them play at our level. We spent too much energy trying to get back into it; we just couldn't finish it."
NBA leading scorer Kobe Bryant scored 25 points but made just 9-of-33 shots for the Lakers, who shot 35 percent (33-of-94). Bryant missed all six of his 3-pointers, committed three turnovers and scored just two points in the fourth quarter as he was harassed by Bruce Bowen.
"The best thing that happened tonight was the great performance by Bruce Bowen against a great player," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "He did a fantastic job against Kobe Bryant."
"With this particular ballclub, I have to be aggressive," Bryant said. "Hopefully we can get some rebounds off of missed shots. They did a good job cleaning the boards and we got some second looks tonight. When we do that, the game will get easier for all of us."
The Spurs took an 83-73 lead on a three-point play by Duncan with 3:03 to go, but the Lakers fought back on runner by Bryant and a rare four-point play by Sasha Vujacic.
Ginobili and Michael Finley each made a pair of free throws to push the lead to 87-79 with 1:15 left. Lamar Odom sliced the deficit to 87-84 with two baskets in the final minute, but Duncan capped the scoring by hitting three free throws.
"I'm happy anytime we can get a victory like this tonight," said Bowen, who chipped in 11 points. "Each game is big for us. We are the champions of last year, so everyone is going to get up when they play us. Kobe is the ultimate competitor, so any time that we can hold him in check, we are happy."
Duncan made 6-of-13 shots and Finley provided the Spurs with a nice lift off the bench, scoring 12 points in 24 minutes.
Odom was the best player for the Lakers, scoring 12 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter. Odom, who has struggled to find his role in Jackson's triangle offense, made 12-of-25 shots while adding 16 rebounds and three assists.
"Statistically, I suppose this was my best game if you want to look at it that way," Odom said. "But I think I could have made a few more plays and my points don't matter if we lose. If we are going to win games, it's important for me to finish strong at the basket."