Lakers Gameday | 04/13/08 | Lakers 106, Spurs 85
Lakers jump to No. 1 spot after limiting Spurs to 32 2nd-half points
The Los Angeles Lakers took sole possession of the Western Conference lead Sunday.
MVP candidate Kobe Bryant had 20 points, five rebounds and five assists before sitting out the fourth quarter, and the Lakers routed the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs 106-85 for their seventh win in eight games.
The Lakers (56-25), who clinched their first Pacific Division championship in four years and at least the No. 3 seed in the West on Friday night, assured themselves of at least a second-place finish in the conference. They're a half-game ahead of New Orleans after beginning the day tied with Hornets for the top spot in the conference.
A victory over visiting Sacramento on Tuesday night in the regular-season finale would put the Lakers in position to be the top seed, giving them homecourt advantage in the first three rounds of the playoffs.
Lamar Odom, the only Los Angeles starter to play in the final period, added 17 points and 14 rebounds before coming out for good with 4:26 remaining. Pau Gasol had 14 points and 11 rebounds, Derek Fisher also scored 14, Jordan Farmar added 11 and Ronny Turiaf scored 10 for the Lakers, who outscored the Spurs 53-32 in the second half.
The Lakers outrebounded San Antonio 51-36 including 31-16 after halftime, and the Spurs shot just 11-of-37 after halftime after going 22-of-24 in the opening 24 minutes.
Tony Parker had 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists to lead San Antonio, but was held to two points after halftime. Tim Duncan added 16 points and 12 rebounds and Ime Udoka scored 14 points for the Spurs (54-26), who lost for just the third time in 13 games.
The Spurs played without leading scorer Manu Ginobili, who missed his second game because of a strained left groin. Robert Horry hasn't played since March 21 because of a bruised left knee. Horry has been a member of seven championship teams -- two with Houston, three with the Lakers and two with San Antonio.
"I'm very concerned about Robert," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said before the game. "I don't know when we're going to get him back. The knee's really bothering him."
Held to four points in the first half, Fisher scored 10 during a 17-6 run to start the third period, giving the Lakers a 70-59 lead, and the Spurs weren't closer than seven after that.
Bryant scored seven points in the last 2 1/2 minutes of the quarter, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make it 79-67 entering the final period. The Spurs missed their first seven field goal attempts of the third quarter and wound up going 3-for-17 in the period.
The Lakers put the game away by outscoring the Spurs 19-5 to start the fourth quarter for a 98-72 lead.
Three-pointers by Bryant and Luke Walton gave the Lakers a 47-41 lead, but Parker scored eight points during a 12-6 run to finish the second quarter, tying the game 53-all at halftime.
The Spurs scored the game's first seven points, the Lakers scored the next seven, and neither team led by more than six points after that until the third quarter. Parker had a hand in most of San Antonio's offensive success in the first period with 10 points and four assists, but Los Angeles led 25-23.
The Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs haven't needed a first-place finish in the Western Conference to win NBA titles in the past, but that certainly doesn't mean they won't be making a strong push for the No. 1 seed.
After securing the Pacific Division title, the Lakers host the Spurs on Sunday in a matchup of teams still in contention for West supremacy.
Los Angeles (55-25) and San Antonio (54-25) have won six of the last eight NBA titles, but each team finished first in the West just once en route to one of its championships during that span -- the Lakers in 2000 and the Spurs in 2004.
San Antonio, which won the title after finishing third in the West last season, is perennially in contention for the conference's No. 1 seed. Los Angeles, meanwhile, is back in the mix after clinching its first Pacific title in four years.
"It's a pleasant surprise," said Lakers star Kobe Bryant, whose team wasn't expected to be in this position before the season. "It's a testament to our hard work and our unity."
Bryant, a strong candidate to win his first MVP award, had 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists to lead the Lakers to a 107-104 win over West-leading New Orleans on Friday night. It secured the Pacific for the Lakers, and also kept them within reach of the Hornets with two games to play.
"It's good to be No. 1," Bryant said. "This was the first step. We want to take another one Sunday."
Los Angeles is ensured of finishing no lower than third in the West by virtue of its division title, meaning it will have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. If the Lakers and Hornets finish with the same record, Los Angeles wins the West and home-court at least until the NBA finals because of a better record against conference opponents.
San Antonio does not have a better conference record than New Orleans, which it is also chasing for the Southwest Division title.
But the Spurs will have a tough time catching the Hornets if Manu Ginobili misses any more time. Ginobili, leading San Antonio with 19.6 points per game, missed Friday night's 95-74 win over Seattle due to a mild strain of his left abductor.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said that Ginobili is doubtful for Sunday's game, a contest that will likely determine if the team will remain in contention for the No. 1 seed.
"Like most every game in the West (it's) another big challenge," Popovich said. "You don't know what's going to happen in the West. You just have no idea."
San Antonio hurt its playoff position by losing two of three before Friday, averaging 71.7 points in that span. But the Spurs were able to bounce back against the conference-worst SuperSonics, as five players scored in double figures and they led by as many as 24 points.
Sunday's game will be the first of two straight San Antonio will play on the road, where it has won four of its last five. The Spurs will visit Sacramento on Monday night before ending the regular season at home against Utah two days later.
Los Angeles, meanwhile, will be playing the first of its last two regular-season games. The Lakers host the Kings on Tuesday night.
Los Angeles has won two straight and six of its last seven overall, but has dropped two of three against San Antonio this season.Copyright 2007 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
(Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
NOTES & CONNECTIONS
The Lakers trail in their season series with the Spurs 1-2 after winning last season’s series 2-1, their first series victory over San Antonio since 2003-04 (3-1). The Lakers are 4-6 against the Spurs in their last 10 games but are 4-4 against San Antonio in their last eight overall meetings. At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 7-10 all-time against the Spurs. In San Antonio, the Lakers have gone 4-6 in their last 10 against the Spurs but have split their last four games at AT&T Center (2-2). Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 13-17 against San Antonio in the regular season. In the postseason, Jackson is 14-7 against the Spurs, advancing to the next round in three of four series meetings. In 41 career games including 36 starts against San Antonio, Bryant is averaging 24.9 points per game. In three games against the Spurs last season, Bryant averaged 33.0 points. In three games this season against San Antonio, Bryant is averaging 25.7 points. Spurs forward and former Laker Robert Horry (1996-2003) ranks among franchise leaders in 3-pt. FG made (10th/274) and blocked shots (9th/446). In addition, Horry was a teammate of Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher for all three Lakers championships in 2000, 2001 and 2002. Spurs guard/forward Ime Udoka played in four games for the Lakers during the 2003-04 season, posting eight points, five rebounds and two assists in 28 total minutes.
LAKERS CLINCH 19th PACIFIC DIVISION TITLE
BRYANT NAMED WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK FOR 3rd TIME THIS SEASON
This is the 19th time Bryant has earned Western Conference Player of the Week honors (11/4/01, 1/20/02, 11/3/02, 12/8/02, 1/12/03, 2/2/03, 2/23/03, 2/17/04, 3/22/04, 11/13/05, 12/18/05, 12/25/05, 1/22/06, 4/16/06, 3/18/07, 3/25/07, 1/13/08, 3/2/08, 4/6/08) since the award was separated by Conference. He has twice earned NBA Player of the Week honors (4/16/00 and 12/24/00), giving him 21 total career Player of the Week awards.Click here to read the full Game Notes