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GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score San Antonio Spurs 26 26 26 25 103
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 20 14 24 24 82
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Spurs vs. Lakers
Press Pass: Pau Gasol
Postgame: Pau Gasol
Postgame: Earl Clark
Postgame: Mike D'Antoni
Press Pass: Dwight Howard
Press Pass: Mike D'Antoni
Howard Ejected
Bryant Sits Behind the Bench
Beatin' the Buzzer
Howard Over Duncan
Hoop and Harm

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Spurs finish 4-game sweep, routing Lakers 103-82

By GREG BEACHAM

Posted Apr 28 2013 10:19PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) For four straight games, the San Antonio Spurs showed off all the teamwork and tenacity that the Los Angeles Lakers lacked all season long.

And when the Lakers' tumultuous season finally collapsed Sunday night, the smooth Spurs rolled right past them to the second round.

Tony Parker scored 23 points, and San Antonio completed its first-round sweep of the injury-plagued Lakers with a 103-82 victory in Game 4.

Tim Duncan had 11 points and six rebounds for the second-seeded Spurs, who will face the winner of Denver's series with Golden State in the second round. They'll get plenty of rest after flattening the Lakers, who staggered through back-to-back blowout losses at home without three regular starters in their first opening-round exit since 2007.

"Obviously, it wasn't a fair fight," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

San Antonio never trailed in the clincher, leading by 25 points in one more businesslike effort against the seventh-seeded Lakers, who provided their usual drama.

In his final game before unrestricted free agency, Dwight Howard scored seven points before getting ejected early in the third quarter for arguing. Pau Gasol had 16 points for the Lakers, who were swept from the postseason for the second time in three years despite a late courtside appearance by Kobe Bryant on crutches.

Howard said the season was "like a nightmare. It's like a bad dream, and we just couldn't wake up from it. That's what it felt like."

The Los Angeles Lakers gave away thousands of white towels to their fans Sunday, and they acquired an unfortunate symbolism: In the final game of a season that began with championship aspirations, the Lakers couldn't keep up without injured starters Bryant, Steve Nash and Metta World Peace. They had just nine available players in uniform for the final minutes.

"I'm proud of them, because they fought," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "It was kind of a year that was all upside-down, but I appreciate the effort to get us into the playoffs. We just didn't have it."

After Duncan led the Spurs' blowout in Game 3, Parker took the lead in the clincher, scoring 15 points in the first half while exploiting the Lakers' hastily assembled backcourt. Los Angeles' top four guards are out with injuries, including backups Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks, and Parker was merciless against third-stringers.

"What I was pleased about our team is the way we focused every night," Popovich said. "Sometimes that's hard to do when your opponent is wounded."

Kawhi Leonard and DeJuan Blair added 13 points apiece in the Spurs' balanced scoring effort.

San Antonio trailed for fewer than five combined minutes in the four-game series, grinding out points and defensive stops with the steady professionalism of Popovich's best teams.

After an unimpressive game featuring just two field goal attempts in 20 minutes, Howard was tossed with 9:51 left in the third quarter for his second technical foul. The All-Star center, furious with the Spurs' unpunished physical play, yelled a few parting words at the court after walking past general manager Mitch Kupchak in the tunnel to the locker room.

"I just felt sorry for him," D'Antoni said, lamenting the lack of foul calls against players guarding Howard. "If you watch tapes, he just gets beat. ... He takes a pounding in there. After a while, his nerves were shot."

Moments later, Bryant got the solemn Staples Center crowd on its feet when he hobbled out of the tunnel to a seat behind the Lakers' bench, making his first appearance at courtside since tearing his Achilles tendon 16 days ago.

Bryant, who might not be healthy by the start of next season, repeatedly yelled instructions and encouragement at the Lakers' young backcourt, Andrew Goudelock and Darius Morris.

After sending Los Angeles to the worst home playoff defeat in franchise history two days earlier, the Spurs also dominated Game 4, jumping to an 18-point lead in the first half while forcing 16 turnovers by a patchwork roster including starters Goudelock, Morris and Earl Clark.

The 16-time NBA champion Lakers had high hopes for this season after landing Howard and Nash to play alongside Bryant and Gasol, but their hopes disappeared in an avalanche of injuries, losing streaks and turmoil.

There's almost no turbulence around the Spurs, who seamlessly replaced injured starting center Tiago Splitter in Game 4 with Australian rookie Aron Baynes, who had six points and played decent defense in his first NBA start.

The Spurs had control of this series from the start: They posted two methodical victories at home before sending the Lakers to their biggest home playoff defeat in their long franchise history in Game 3, 120-89. The clincher was more of the same, with the Lakers unable to mount enough teamwork to challenge the smooth Spurs.

The Spurs have swept three of their last four playoff series, winning every game in the first two rounds last season before losing in six games to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals. San Antonio is in the second round of the postseason for the fourth time in six seasons since their last championship in 2007.

NOTES: Gasol got a standing ovation when he left the game with 3:08 to play. The two-time NBA champion has one year left on his contract with the Lakers, but could be a trade chip in the Lakers' rebuild. ... Splitter has a sprained ankle and is out indefinitely, although his teammates think he can return during the second round. F Boris Diaw practiced with contact this weekend in his comeback from a back injury. ... The Lakers faced an 0-3 series deficit for the eighth time in franchise history - and for the eighth time, they were swept. ... Jack Nicholson and Lil Wayne watched at courtside, but both left early in the fourth quarter.

Copyright 2013 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited



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View More Photos
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Points Parker (SAS), 23
Rebounds Gasol/Howard, 8
Assists Duhon, 7
Steals Leonard (SAS), 3
Blocks Gasol/Hill, 2
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POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike D’Antoni:

On his thoughts when Dwight Howard’s was ejected from the game and if he should’ve been more careful to avoid a second technical foul:
“I hate it for him. He gets banged up so much in there that I’m sure he didn’t mean to, but he takes a pounding and after a while I guess his nerves are shot or whatever, but obviously we were in a deep hole anyways so I just felt bad for him. Understand it’s easy when you sit there like us and just watch, but when you’re playing you’ve got a lot of adrenaline going so it’s a hard situation and obviously that wouldn’t have happened if the series was a little bit different.”

On the Lakers season as a whole and what he’s proud of:
“I’m proud of them [the players] because they fought, and just to recap we were 17-25 and had real serious problems and were going the wrong way, and you know what, they aired out the differences and then they went 28-12, one of the best records in the league. They got us in the playoffs. They went 7-1 in April. They fought as hard as they could fight and as a coach, I appreciated it. I hated that injuries started mounting up and stuff happens. It was kind of a year that was all upside down, but I appreciate the effort they gave to get us in the playoffs but then they just didn’t have it. Steve [Nash] was playing on half a leg and then Steve Blake goes out, Kobe was already out, so it was doomed. San Antonio’s a good team, a real good team. We were hoping going in the playoffs that we would be healthy and they wouldn’t be and it was just the opposite, so it happens but I am proud of the guys and how they fought.”

On the struggles with team continuity this year and what will be different next year:
“Well I’m sure we’ll sit in the days coming and try to figure it out. Mitch [Kupchak] will put the best team possible on the floor and go back at it. That’s all you can do. We’ll just keep working as hard as we can work. I’m sure guys, and you’ll have to talk to them, are fired up. I know Nash I was talked to him for an hour the other day. He wants to come back and have a great season. I know him, he’ll work so hard it won’t be funny and there’s a lot of guys like that in the dressing room who have things to prove and I think the effort and desire to do it won’t be lacking.”

On if there’s any regrets this season:
“Yeah we didn’t finish up the season like we wanted to and we regretted going to a 17-25 to where we had to pull all stops out and guys had to play basically playoff basketball for three months. We didn’t have a chance to rest guys, we had to get in the playoffs and it went south. A lot of freaky stuff happened but again they fought hard. They fought hard for two or three months, but once we got the ship righted a bit, I thought we played well.”




Dwight Howard:

On being ejected from the game:
“Just frustration, there’s nothing we can do about it now. It’s over now. I just got to do a better job of keeping my cool. It’s very tough, you’re out there playing most of the game, I don’t want to lose, and sometimes when things don’t go your way, sometimes you react the wrong way and I just got to keep my cool.”

On the season:
“It’s like a nightmare. It’s like a bad dream we couldn’t wake up out of, that’s what it felt like. It seemed like nothing could go right from the start, injuries and all that stuff, but we get an opportunity to get some rest for guys who are injured, coming off of injuries. A chance to rehab and think about what we can all do to better ourselves.”

“Everybody right now is a little bit upset about how the season ended. So, I think we’re all going to take some time, away from the game and focus on us, focus on getting better.”

“It was a rocky year. A lot of things happened that I didn’t have any control over. I think I handled some situations good and I think I handled some bad but its growing process. Keep growing, keep learning, and that’s why we have an offseason. We get an opportunity to reflect on all the good and bad things that happened during the season and I’ll try to make it better for the next year.”




Pau Gasol:

On the game and the future:
“It has been a very difficult season and a very challenging season in different ways and we have done our best. We have done our best and fought our way through it. We earned to be in the playoffs after everything the team has been through and we were pretty down in the standings. We pretty much didn’t have much of a chance against the Spurs, but we still fought. We beat it as a team and stayed together and that is the thought I will keep and for the future, who knows what is going to happen. I have no idea. Whatever happens is out of my reach and out of my control. But, we will see. There are different possibilities.”

“I think we have the pieces, but it is up to management and ownership to decide what pieced to keep and what pieces to change. I would like to be a part of another championship team here, but it is not totally up to me. So, there is definitely potential for this team, but this season things have definitely not gone our way. We had multiple challenges to fight though, but I think we stuck together through all of them. That is a positive. A positive read from our team.”

On this maybe being his last game:
“I guess that there is a sense that that might happen. So, that is not something I have thought a lot about. I always try to play my best and as if it is my last game. I am very appreciative and thankful for our fans and the support they show and their loyalty and their appreciation that they have for me. That is nice.”




Andrew Goudelock:

On reflecting on going from the D-League back to the Lakers:
“I haven’t really had a chance to think. From being on the court in the D-League and then they’re like you’re going back to the Lakers and the next day I’m here and they’re like you’re going to play. You don’t really get a chance, you don’t want to start thinking too much about things and then you start messing up so I finally get a chance to sit down and reflect. I think I did what I needed to do as far as showing my individual talent to whomever.”

On the series:
“These guys have been together for seems like 15 years, they’ve been together since I was a little kid, so these guys know each other like the back of their hands….Those guys have been together. You can’t expect to come and have instant success against a team like that, especially since we haven’t even been playing. We basically threw a team together, threw us out there, and go play. So tough circumstances but I think we all learned a lot from it, I think we’ll all be better from it.”




Greg Popovich:

On the series:
“There’s no bad victory. Obviously it wasn’t a fair fight. When you’re a competitor you want to compete on an even basis and the Lakers weren’t able to do that, but having said that, they came to play every night and the guys that replaced hurt people played [hard] and did the best they could and what I was pleased about our team was that we kept our focus every night.”

On going up against an injured Lakers team:
“We respected them every night. We played hard, followed the game plan and were very active and energetic every night, and sometimes that’s hard to do when your opponent is wounded. I have a lot of respect for them, obviously all the injuries down the stretch were a big disappointment for that team and even though it wasn’t a fair fight we still want to win the series and I’m glad we did and I think our focus was great.”

On the team resurging after struggling down the line at the end of the regular season:
“Well we got people back. We’re going the other direction than the Lakers health wise. We got a rhythm back, as far as rotations and team defense and that sort of thing, so hopefully we can carry that forward.”

On stretching the bench:
“We’ve stretched that bench all year long. The bench has been a big part of it. We’ve played 10, 11 guys all year so that’s nothing new.”




Tim Duncan:

On if he thinks the team is where it needs to be going forward:
“We’re getting there. Obviously this series went well for us. We didn’t end the year well, but the bottom line is that it really doesn’t matter how you end the year. We ended the last year winning however many in a row; so it’s just how you play in the playoffs. This is a good start for us. It’ll be a different team to play against next round, and everything is going to change. So, we like the pace we’re at right now, we like the rhythm we’re at right now, and how healthy we are right now; hopefully it can stay that way.”

On if he was able to get a desperation mind set to beat the Lakers:
“We came in here to win four games. We didn’t come here to play who they had, who they didn’t have. We respected the team for what it was, we respected them for the talent that they had. We understand that they were shorthanded, and we respect that as well. But, we come in here and we lose a game, or two, or three, or whatever it may be, and then it’s a different story; we didn’t respect them, and we didn’t do this, and we didn’t do that. But, we came in here, we put our best foot forward, we respected what they had and what they could do, and we took care of business.”

On Pau Gasol:
“I don’t see how he’s changed much at all. He’s in a different system, and he’s asked to do different things. He’s as skilled as there are of big men out there. He can do just about everything, and he’s unselfish. I see him playing the way he’s been asked to play. I think if he’s asked to be more of a scorer, or be something else, he can do that as well. I don’t see why he doesn’t have many years left in him.”




Manu Ginobili:

On what he can take from this series:
“We can really maintain focus. Of course it’s really hard to measure this play because they were missing five players in the last two games. They’re missing five outside players which gives us a big advantage. Sometimes when that happens, the other players step up and play more aggressively. We really respected them, they played hard. We never thought about who was playing or who wasn’t and just competed. We are happy that we did that.”

On health and game for the next series:
“I feel very good. Of course I played limited minutes in the last two games, because I wasn’t needed. But I played well and I was useful, that’s something that’s refreshing to feel. Tony was amazing. He was sharp. And everybody that came into the game contributed; Cory Joseph had been in the D-League for a long time but he came and he played hard and made us better. I’m proud of the team and I’m really looking forward to the next round.”

On getting time off before next series:
“It’s huge for our boys, Tiago [Splitter] especially. I need to keep playing but I’m not going to complain. We can have a couple of good practices, which is always useful. The team is going to be ready for the next round. Thinking about boys, Tiago especially, is important.”




Danny Green:

On Aron Baynes’s performance tonight:
“I was very impressed. He came out with a lot of energy, stuck to the game plan and he didn’t look like a rookie out there at all. He looked like he had been doing this for a little while. He gave us a lip that we needed at the beginning. It kind of surprised Dwight [Howard] I’m sure and I’m sure it surprised them [Lakers]. We got a quick jump on them.”

On Corey Joseph’s performance tonight:
“That’s Corey, that’s how he is. He’s an energy guy he’s always biting, scratching and doing the little things that we need him to do all season. We expect that from him but I’m sure that Dwight was surprised. He fought down there with the best of them, boxed some of those guys out, front of them, three-quarters, getting around, he did a great job and we expect him to do that for us.”

On stepping up defensively:
“We had different matchups with different guys out and different guys hurt. With Tiago being out we have a different rotation. With the small lineups we had, we had some of our guards guarding big men and I think Kawhi [Leonard] did a great job of using his length, using his body and being physical with Pau. We did a great job of rotating, helping digging and having each other’s backs.”




Tony Parker:

On tonight’s game:
“It was just weird. It was just a weird feeling. Obviously I am happy we won, but it was just weird. Obviously they were missing a lot of guys so we’re just happy to go to the next round.”

“I am feeling better. Manu [Ginobili] is feeling better. That is a big key for us. To stay healthy. Sweeping the Lakers is going to give us a week to get ready and that is going to be very important that we keep doing our stuff to improve offense and defense, and be ready for either Denver or Golden State.”

“That is the main thing for us: to stay healthy. We need to get Tiago [Splitter] and Boris [Diaw] back and we will see what happens.”

On having a preference of who they play next:
“Not really. It is going to be track and field in the second round. There is going to be a lot of running. Golden State and Denver are two very good teams.”

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SPURS-LAKERS PREVIEW

By GREG BEACHAM

Posted Apr 27 2013 7:03PM

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) Facing an 0-3 deficit to the surging San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Lakers probably will run out of games in their season before they run out of healthy players.

But it'll be close.

Coach Mike D'Antoni said Metta World Peace won't play in Game 4 of their first-round series Sunday when the Lakers attempt to avoid their earliest playoff exit since 2007. That's going to be tough with a starting lineup including Earl Clark, Andrew Goudelock and Darius Morris facing Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and the playoff-tested Spurs.

The Lakers might laugh at the absurdity of their injury problems if this dire situation wasn't such a crushing disappointment for a team that began the season with championship aspirations. Instead, they expressed as much plausible optimism as possible after Saturday's practice at their quiet training complex.

"Despite all the injuries, as a team we've stayed together," said a solemn Dwight Howard, who is eligible for free agency after the season. "When most teams would fall apart and blame each other and point a finger, we've stayed together, become a closer team throughout all the adversity."

San Antonio handed the Lakers their biggest home playoff defeat in franchise history in Game 3. After the 31-point blowout put the series into such stark terms on a gorgeous day in Southern California, both clubs had to avoid the natural inclination to look ahead - the Spurs to the second round, and the Lakers to summer.

The Spurs realize they're thought to be the new favorite to come out of the West after Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook was ruled out for the postseason. Just don't expect Duncan, Parker or coach Gregg Popovich even to dignify such speculation by thinking beyond Sunday.

"Hopefully we can close this series out on Sunday and give our team some time to rest, get everybody healthy again," Duncan told reporters after practice at Santa Monica Community College.

And the Spurs are hurting, too: They'll be without starting center Tiago Splitter, who sprained his left ankle in Game 3, and Boris Diaw still isn't ready to return from a back injury. Although Splitter doesn't score much, his solid defense could be missed against Howard and Pau Gasol.

"I think it's very important for us as a team to finish (Sunday)," said Parker, who was fine after World Peace scratched his eye in Game 3. "Especially with Tiago being hurt now, and waiting for Boris to get back - me, Manu (Ginobili), T.D., we can always use some rest."

Splitter's absence will give more minutes to backups DeJuan Blair and Matt Bonner, and it might give a faint hope to the Lakers, whose low-post stars have played fairly well: Howard had 25 points and 11 rebounds in Game 3, and Gasol had a triple-double.

Los Angeles' two-man post game has been remarkably effective in those few, fleeting games when Howard and Gasol have both been healthy this season. D'Antoni knows it's the only choice they've got in Game 4 with their other three regular starters watching in street clothes.

World Peace will join Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks on the Lakers' crowded sideline Sunday. World Peace struggled through the biggest home loss in Los Angeles playoff history Friday night, hours after getting fluid drained from a cyst behind his left knee.

Howard, Gasol, Antawn Jamison and Jordan Hill also are playing through injuries that would keep them out in other circumstances.

"We're wounded, (but) we've just got to stay positive and give ourselves a chance," Gasol said. "It's been really difficult to play at this level of playoff basketball without your roster healthy, without four or five key players in your rotation ... I'm proud of us because we've been fighting so much."

The Lakers realize no NBA team has ever rallied from an 0-3 playoff deficit, and nothing about their patchwork roster suggests this team could be the first. Yet Los Angeles survived its awful start to the season with a consistent, businesslike approach since January, and D'Antoni wants the Lakers to stay focused on the present, however long that might be.

"You can't do something that everybody will talk about if everybody expects you to do it," D'Antoni said. "Nobody expects us to do it. We're going to show up, going to try to do it. Why not? We've got good guys, and they've battled since February to get us in this position. Now we're in another big hole, and we're going to try to dig out little by little."

The Spurs' merciless 120-point performance in Game 3 included 61.2 percent shooting, a 49-35 rebounding edge and even a 7-3 edge in blocked shots. Splitter played nearly 22 minutes before getting injured, and the Spurs will try to fill his minutes with new contributors while doing everything else almost exactly the same way in Game 4.

"They are hurt," Ginobili said. "They are wounded, and we have a great opportunity. When you have a good opportunity, you want to grab it. So we know we're in that spot, but I'm going to say the same I said before Game 3. We've just got to respect them, be humble, play hard. Don't think about anything else but the next quarter, the next minute."


Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Probable Starters .
  Lakers    
  #6 Clark SF #2 Leonard  
  #16 GasolPF #21 Duncan  
  #12 Howard C #22 Splitter  
  #1 Morris SG #20 Green  
  #0 Goudelock PG #9 Parker  


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Lakers Steve Blake
(strained right hamstring) is out.
Kobe Bryant
(torn left Achilles tendon) is out.
Pau Gasol
(strained plantar fascia, right foot) is probable.
Jordan Hill
(left hip surgery) is probable.
Dwight Howard
(torn labrum, right shoulder) is probable.
Antawn Jamison
(sprained right wrist) is probable.
Jodie Meeks
(sprained left ankle) is doubtful.
Steve Nash
(strained right hamstring) is doubtful.
Metta World Peace
(left knee surgery) is doubtful.
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Jazz Boris Diaw
(synovial cyst excision, lumbar spine) is out.
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REGULAR SEASON MATCHUPS
11/13 - SAS 84 @ LAL 82
01/09 - LAL 105 @ SAS 108
04/14 - SAS 86 @ LAL 91

PLAYOFF MATCHUPS
4/21 - LAL 79 @ SAS 91
4/24 - LAL 91 @ SAS 102
4/26 - SAS 120 @ LAL 89
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