Lakers Gameday | 03/24/10 | Spurs

Box Score
Play by Play

5 Steals for Ron Artest, which actually seems low for how active and intimidating he was on defense throughout an entirely stellar evening. He added 16 points, eight rebounds, three assists and one block.

6 Points for Tim Duncan on 2-of-11 shooting, thanks in part to the defensive effort of Pau Gasol. The Spaniard swatted two of Duncan’s shots in 1-on-1 situations and grabbed 12 rebounds while taking only 11 shots, making four, for 10 points.

10 Three-pointers nailed by the Lakers, including three from Jordan Farmar and two from Shannon Brown off the bench.

20 Points in the first half for George Hill, helping the Spurs build a 7-point lead at the break. Hill, however, managed just one point in the second half.

24 Points to lead L.A. on only 16 shots for Kobe Bryant, who made 11 including two huge 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter. Bryant played distributor with five assists in the first three quarter, then scored 10 in the fourth to take the Lakers home.

Mike Trudell, Lakers.com

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Kobe, Artest lead Lakers' second-half surge over Spurs

By Tim Price, for NBA.com

Even after winning six straight, the Lakers didn't sound like a happy bunch when they started their five-game road trip Wednesday at AT&T Center. But after a second half of strong offensive play from Kobe Bryant and a compliment on defense from Ron Artest, you can color the Lakers a happy bunch now.

Bryant hit 11-for-16 for the game -- he made six of seven in the second half -- and Artest tore away all five of his steals after halftime to lead L.A. to a 92-83 come-from-behind victory over San Antonio Wednesday night.

"It was playoff type of atmosphere," Bryant said. "We were down the first half and we had to battle back. It was a good win for us to start this road trip. Against San Antonio you have to execute."

The Lakers (53-18) continue their grip on the West lead and have won seven straight, the first in the streak against a team apparently bound for the playoffs. The Spurs (42-28), though, dropped their second in the last three and continue a stretch of five straight against playoff-bound teams when they play host to Cleveland on Friday.

The grind showed on Tim Duncan. After playing two hard back-to-back games on the road Sunday and Monday, Duncan shot 2-for-11 against the Lakers. He took only four shots in the second half -- missed all of them -- and had two blocked.

"We needed more players to play well," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, "and more players to make shots."

Manu Ginobili (24 points) and George Hill (21, but just one after halftime) were 16-for-32. The rest of the team went 14-for-48 as San Antonio shot 37 percent.

Duncan's night was pretty much encapsulated in the third when he took an inbound pass and tried to get a shot off before the 24-second clock expired. He went up from about 14 feet and had his shot easily rejected by Pau Gasol.

Plenty shared in Duncan's woes. Richard Jefferson, Matt Bonner and Roger Mason each went 3-for-9. Mason was 0-for-5 from the 3-point line and Jefferson 0-for-2.

And then there were the turnovers. San Antonio committed six in the fourth after having eight in the first three quarters. Half of those fourth-quarter giveaways could be pinpointed at the havoc Artest created.

"He's the one that created the turnovers," Popovich said. "He did a heck of a job for them."

Though San Antonio saw its point production decrease with every quarter (25-23-18-17), the third is where the Lakers took control after trailing by 10 in the first half.

While the Spurs missed their final seven shots before the fourth, the Lakers caught San Antonio and took their first lead since 5:49 into the game when Shannon Brown hit his second straight 3-pointer with 1½ minutes left in the third.

It actually was a stretch of three straight 3-pointers, because Odom -- who set up the first of the 3-pointers when he chased down an offensive rebound from Hill and Bonner -- nailed a trey to make it 69-66 with less than a minute remaining in the quarter.

The Spurs led 73-71 when Bonner hit a 3-pointer 2:13 into the fourth.

But L.A. went on a 16-3 run, highlighted by a pair of Bryant treys.

"I just tried to be patient," Bryant said. "I had spots out there, especially in the first quarter, when I knew it was going to be a tough day. I just had to wait."

The Lakers were 8-for-12 from beyond the arc after halftime.



Lakers’ Coach Phil Jackson

(on the second half )
“We came up with a lot of loose balls and steals.  I was still unhappy with the amount of shots they had that were open looks.  We got control of Hill a little bit.  We held him to one point in the second half, after scoring probably a career high in the first half.  Ginobili was who he is.”

(when asked about Ron Artest)
“He played a really good defensive game.  He chased out some balls that cost us some points, but most of the time he comes up with that ball and makes some great plays.”

(when asked what was the difference between the first half and the second)
“I thought they (Spurs) had more energy in the first half then we did.  We were telling the guys at half time that they weren’t expending themselves and they were pacing themselves.  They came out and played hard in the second half.”

(on playing George Hill in the second half)
“We played him a little bit better on the screen and rolls.  We were more prepared in the second half.  We saw some of the things they did in the first half and we were able to control those things in the second.”

(when asked about Gasol on Duncan)
“(Gasol) length really bothered Tim tonight.  I don’t know if it’s always that way.  He got a couple of blocks.  I thought they nullified each other.  I think Pau out scored him by four points, which isn’t a whole lot.”




Lakers’ Kobe Bryant

(on if Ron Artest performance tonight was why the Lakers acquired him)

“Yes. This year he’s quicker, he‘s a lot faster and more agile.”

(on being double-teamed tonight)
“I just tried to be patient. I had spots out there especially in the first quarter as I knew it was going to be a tough game but I just had to wait.”

(on their second half performance)
“We simply made adjustments. In the first half we blew a lot of assignments, which was something we were trying to minimize as we had guys wide open in during our rotation.”
 
(on the Lakers lock-down defense after being down in the first half)
“We‘ve been a great defensive team for years. Guys stepped up, which is what I like to see.”






Lakers' Ron Artest

(on if tonight was his best defensive performance tonight as a Laker)

“Initially no, the main thing tonight was the effort. I will let other people judge that but the effort during the last ten games have been on point as that‘s what we really want to focus on.”

(on their defensive performance in the second half)
“I think Pau had some good blocks as he was tough today. Guys kept dribbling the ball around me but I think to their credit, they‘ve been thinking for the past three year I haven‘t been the same defender so they probably think I‘m still that same guy three years ago. But since I‘ve gotten lighter, I think guys are now going to be reminded now to dribble so much around me.”





Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich

“I thought we competed great.  I was pleased with the competitiveness.  We needed more players to play well and more players to make shots.  In the fourth quarter, they (Lakers) did (make shots) and we didn’t.”

(On Ron Artest)
“He’s the one that created the turnovers.  He did a heck of a job for them.”

(When asked if the shooting was the main cause of the second half play)
“It’s never one thing.  If we hadn’t had any turnovers, we could have hung in longer.  We had opportunities.  In a 48 minute game, they add up.  We needed to make shots.  Turnovers in the fourth quarter are not a good thing.”





Spurs Guard Manu Ginobili

(on not enough to win)
“Not making our shots is one thing but we also stopped during the second half and we didn’t move the ball as well. We didn’t penetrate and kick as much as we did during the first. It’s true that we missed some open shots but we didn’t play good defense either. During the third quarter the Lakers started making some very tough shots. They had good timing and they made the shots they need to make, we didn’t make our shots. We stopped and didn’t play as sharp as we did during the first half.”

(on Ron Artest)
 “He is one of the best defenders in the league. He has long arms. He’s strong. We put ourselves in a bad position being in front of him during the second half. Things happen and we knew he was good defender.”

(on 5 game stretch)
“We need to make fewer mistakes. I think we played great basketball for almost 2 ½ quarters with solid defense and hustle. We just had some bad moment during the third and let the Lakers score. We were unable to score late in the third.  Against a team like the Lakers, Cleveland, or Boston you’re not going to win with our scoring. We played great basketball for most of the game and then we stopped. We need to play steady basketball for 48 minutes.”

(on beating the best of the best)
“You always want to beat the best teams but at this point in the season I just want to beat the team in front of me. If it’s the worst or the best we just need to win. Every win is big right now and every game counts. We need to put ourselves in the best situation possible for the playoffs.”





Spurs Center-Forward Matt Bonner

(on tonight’s team play)
“I think we played hard and left it all out on the basketball court. We did a good job with adjustments on the fly and dealing with Kobe Bryant.”

(on preparing for Cleveland)
“I like the challenge. It’s good for this team especially when we are getting ready for the playoffs. These final games will only make us better. With the effort we put forth tonight and a few more shots we will be ok. We treat every game the same. I think we are getting better and excited for the challenges ahead.”






Lakers vs. Spurs Game Preview

By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO

A late-season five-game road trip against some stiff competition should be all the Los Angeles Lakers need to stay focused on the remainder of the regular season before setting out to defend their NBA title.

The Western Conference leaders look to extend their winning streak to seven games Wednesday night when they face the San Antonio Spurs in a possible preview of an opening-round playoff series.

Los Angeles (52-18) is outscoring opponents by an average of just 5.5 points during its winning streak, clinching a playoff berth for the 15th time in 16 seasons along the way. Included in the run were a two-point win over Toronto, a three-point triumph over Golden State and an eight-point win over lowly Minnesota.

Lakers guard Derek Fisher simply said a win is a win.

"At the end of the day it's just about winning games," he said. "It's that simple. We figured out a way to do it and win a championship (last season), and it gets harder. We just need to stay focused on winning, no matter how it looks. Just win."

It didn't look pretty Sunday, as the Lakers got by last-place Washington 99-92. Los Angeles scored 35 second-quarter points en route to a 59-33 halftime lead, but was outscored by 19 in the second half.

"It's getting to the end of the season and they're looking forward to getting into the postseason, but the job's not done yet," coach Phil Jackson said. "I don't think we've given up hope of having a record befitting of what we thought or anticipated before the season started. To do that, we have to win on this road trip."

Los Angeles has won three in a row on the road after dropping a season high-tying four straight. After visiting San Antonio (42-27), the Lakers will face Oklahoma City on Friday followed by Houston, New Orleans and Atlanta before returning home April 2 against Utah.

Los Angeles has split two meetings with the Spurs, but fell 105-85 on Jan. 12 at San Antonio to lose for the fourth time in five visits.

"We're relatively familiar with San Antonio," Jackson said. "They played us in the playoffs a year ago. We have a rivalry that goes back a long ways. We have some sense of who they are and how they play."

Kobe Bryant needs two points to move past Alex English into 12th on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Bryant scored 20 of his 24 points in the second quarter Sunday, and his 27.6 points per game rank fourth in the league.

Bryant tallied 16 at San Antonio in January, but an ankle injury forced him to miss the most recent matchup. Pau Gasol had 21 points and 19 rebounds in the 101-89 home win on Feb. 8. The forward-center is averaging 24.8 points and 11.8 rebounds over his last four games.

The Spurs, sixth in the West and with a five-game cushion over ninth-place Memphis, will be hosting the top two teams in the league this week. After the Lakers visit, NBA-best Cleveland will take the court Friday.

"Every game right now is important and big," said guard George Hill, who is averaging 14.9 points and 4.8 assists in nine games while filling in for the injured Tony Parker (broken finger).

Hill scored a career-high 27 points in Monday's 99-96 win at Oklahoma City.

The Spurs' Tim Duncan had 14 points and seven rebounds against the Thunder after scoring 29 points with 13 boards in a 119-114 overtime loss at Atlanta one night earlier. Duncan is averaging 22.3 points and 12.8 rebounds in the last four home meetings with the Lakers.

Copyright 2010 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








Lakers
Ron Artest
(sprained left thumb) will play.
Shannon Brown
(sprained right thumb) will play.
Kobe Bryant
(avulsion fracture, right index finger) will play.
Andrew Bynum
(left Achilles strain) is out.
Sasha Vujacic
(sprained right shoulder) is probable.
Luke Walton
(pinched nerve, back) is out indefinitely.

Mavs

Tony Parker (fractured fourth right metacarpal) is out.











SEASON & SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers have split their first two games against San Antonio 41-1 with two games remaining in the season series. Last season, the Lakers won their season series with the Spurs 2-1. The Lakers are 5-5 against the Spurs in their last 10 overall games. The Lakers, however, have won their last four straight home games against the Spurs, are 10-10 all-time against San Antonio at STAPLES Center and have gone 5-5 in their last 10 home games overall. In San Antonio, the Lakers are 3-7 in their last 10 meetings with the Spurs. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 17-19 against San Antonio in the regular season. In the postseason, Jackson is 15-7 against the Spurs, advancing to the next round in four of five series meetings. Jackson (10) and Popovich (4) are the only two active coaches to have won multiple NBA Championships. In 46 career games including 41 starts against San Antonio, Bryant is averaging 24.6 points per game. Manu Ginobili played for Argentina in the 2008 Beijing Olympics but suffered a foot injury in their August 22 meeting with Kobe Bryant’s United States team that forced him to miss the first 12 games of the 2008- 09 regular season with San Antonio. Bryant scored 12 points as the U.S. defeated defending champion Argentina 101-81 to advance to the gold medal game while Ginobili played just six minutes due to injury. Additionally, Luke Walton and Spurs forward Richard Jefferson were roommates at the University of Arizon while playing three years together for the Wildcats.

BRYANT 1 POINT SHY OF ALEX ENGLISH FOR 12th ON NBA’S ALL-TIME SCORING LIST

With 24 points 3/21 vs. Washington, Kobe Bryant moved within a point of Alex English (25,613) for 12th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Bryant (25,612), who earlier this season moved past Jerry West (25,192) for 1st on the Lakers all-time scoring list and 14th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, passed Reggie Miller (25,279) for 13th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list 2/24 at Dallas. Next on the all-time list ahead Bryant are John Havlicek (11th/26,395) and Dominique Wilkins (10th/26,668).

Bryant passed West with a slam dunk at the 4:14 mark of the third quarter February 1 at Memphis, finishing the game with 44 points (West’s retired number). Less than a month earlier, with 22 points 1/5 vs. Houston, Bryant moved past Patrick Ewing (24,815) for 15th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. In November, with his free throw at the 6:07 mark of the third quarter 11/19 vs. Chicago, Bryant moved past Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (24,176) for 2nd on the Lakers all-time franchise scoring list while with 41 points 11/6 vs. Memphis, Bryant moved past Allen Iverson for 16th on the all-time list. Bryant has been steadily moving up the list the last few years and last season alone, passed Charles Barkley (23,757) for 17th, Robert Parish (23,334) for 18th, Adrian Dantley (23,177) for 19th, Elgin Baylor (23,149) for 20th, Clyde Drexler (22,195) for 21st, Gary Payton (21,813) for 22nd and Larry Bird (21,791) for 23rd.

WIRE-TO-WIRE
With their 99-92 victory over Washington March 21st, the Lakers posted their 7th wire-to-wire victory of the season. The Lakers recorded their 1st wire-to-wire victory of the year with a 104-88 win 11/8 vs. NO and proceeded to win their 2nd 11/28 @ GS (130-97), 3rd 12/6 vs. PHX (108-88), 4th 1/5 vs. HOU (88-79), 5th 1/10 vs. MIL (95-77) and 6th 2/10 @ UTAH (96-81). Last season, the Lakers claimed nine wire-to-wire victories (games in which they never trailed) during the regular season, tied for 3rd most in the league (Phoenix) behind Cleveland (14) and Orlando (13). The Lakers also won in wire-to-wire fashion twice during the 2009 Playoffs (4/29 vs. Utah & 5/17 vs. Houston). Additionally, the Lakers were one of only two teams last season (Cleveland) to never lose in wire-to-wire fashion during the regular season. In the playoffs, however, the Lakers played two games in which they never led, falling twice to Houston in the Conference Semifinals (5/10/09 at HOU and 5/14/09 at HOU). This season, the Lakers have lost one game in wire-to-wire fashion (98-107 loss 1/8/10 @ POR), their first regular season wire-to-wire defeat since 1/17/08 vs. PHX.

GASOL EARNS FIRST WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE WEEK AWARD THIS SEASON; 6th CAREER HONOR

On March 22, the NBA announced that Pau Gasol had earned Western Conference Player of the Week honors for games played Monday, March 15 through Sunday, March 21. The award is the 6th of his career (previous awards came for weeks ending 2/22/09, 2/8/09, 3/26/06, 3/2/06 and 1/2/05) and 3rd as a Laker. One of four Lakers (Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum, Shaquille O’Neal) to win the award since it became separated by Conference and one of nine to win the weekly honor overall since its inception, Gasol averaged 24.8 points (.685 FG%), 11.8 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.00 blocks in helping lead Los Angeles to a 4-0 week: 3/15 @ GS: 26 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists; 3/16 @ SAC: 28 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists; 3/19 vs. MIN: 17 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists; 3/21 vs. WAS: 28 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists.

LAKERS CLINCH 57th PLAYOFF BERTH
With their victory over Minnesota and the Rockets loss to Boston on March 19, the Lakers became the 1st team in the West to clinch a playoff spot, marking their 57th postseason appearance in 62 NBA seasons as well as their 29th playoff berth in 31 seasons since Dr. Jerry Buss purchased the team prior to the 1979-80 season.

EFFICIENT FROM THE FLOOR & ON THE GLASS
In the Lakers 106-99 victory over Sacramento March 16, Pau Gasol scored 28 points on 12-of-14 shooting while grabbing 12 rebounds. Gasol is the third different player this season to shoot at least 85% from the field (minimum 10 attempts) while recording at least 10 rebounds in a game. Earlier this season, Andrew Bynum totaled a season-high 27 points on 12-of-14 shooting and 12 rebounds 1/27 vs. Indiana. Dwight Howard has had two such games this season as well: 2/24 at Houston (30 points, 11-11 FG, 16 rebounds) and 3/14 vs. Charlotte (27 points, 12-14 FG, 16 rebounds).

50 WIN SEASONS
With their victory over Sacramento March 16, the Lakers reached the 50-win mark for the 31st time in franchise history (30th time since moving to Los Angeles prior to the 1960-61 season and the 28th time since the NBA adopted an 82-game schedule prior to the 1967-68 campaign). Since Dr. Jerry Buss took over the team prior to the 1979- 80 season, the Lakers have posted 22 50+ win seasons. It is Phil Jackson’s 16th 50-win season in 19 seasons as an NBA head coach.

BRYANT AMONG WINNINGEST LAKERS OF ALL TIME
With their victory at Sacramento March 16th, the Lakers recorded their 671st regular season victory with Kobe Bryant in the lineup, moving him ahead of Earvin “Magic” Johnson (670) as the 2nd winningest Laker ever. In the franchise’s history, only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (743) has won more games in a Lakers uniform than Bryant (673).

LAKERS ESTABLISH NEW FRANCHISE REBOUNDING RECORD
With a 56-25 rebounding advantage in their victory at Golden State March 15, the Lakers collected 69.1 percent of the game’s rebounds, a percentage that is the highest the Lakers have ever had in any game since the NBA introduced the 24-second shot clock in 1954. The Lakers percentage was the second highest by a team this season, with Philadelphia grabbing 69.4 percent of the rebounds in a 117-101 victory over the Warriors on December 14, 2009. Additionally, in outrebounding the Warriors by 31, the Lakers posted their largest rebound advantage since outrebounding the Washington Bullets by 33 (61-28) in a 129-94 victory in Los Angeles on 3/16/94. More recently, the Lakers outrebounded Don Nelson’s Warriors by 30 (63-33) in a 115-113 victory in Los Angeles on 3/25/07.