GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score San Antonio Spurs 15 30 19 29 93
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 24 21 25 32 102


Lakers snap 5-game skid, but Andrew Bynum injured

By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant scored 27 points and the Los Angeles Lakers snapped their five-game losing streak at a potentially high cost, losing center Andrew Bynum to a hyperextended right knee in a 102-93 victory over the San Antonio Spurs' role players Tuesday night.

The Lakers' hopes for a third straight NBA title might have taken a significant blow when Bynum fell to the court after stepping on DeJuan Blair's foot during the second period. The shot-blocking 7-footer will have an MRI on Wednesday while the Lakers wrap up the regular season at Sacramento.

Lamar Odom scored 23 points as the Lakers struggled to hold off the Spurs, who rested stars Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker with the Western Conference's top seed already wrapped up.

Gary Neal scored 16 points and Matt Bonner had 13 for the Spurs, whose four-game winning streak ended.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich didn't worry about falling into a tie with surging Chicago (61-20) for the NBA's best overall record, yet his junior varsity nearly knocked off the discombobulated Lakers, who couldn't breathe easily until Bryant's 3-pointer put them up 96-88 with 2:55 to play.

Pau Gasol had 17 points and 17 rebounds for the Lakers (56-25), who will get the No. 2 seed in the West with a win at Sacramento or a loss by Dallas (56-25).

The Lakers hadn't won since April 1, falling apart after a sparkling 17-1 stretch. They still haven't fixed the defensive execution issues that have plagued them this month - but if Bynum's potential absence doesn't get the champs' attention, maybe it can't be got.

Bynum was hurt while getting back on defense, awkwardly tumbling to the court and nearly doing the splits while putting an inordinate amount of weight on his right knee. After he walked to the locker room, Bynum told Phil Jackson at halftime he was "going to be OK," according to the coach.

Bryant describes the shot-blocking center as the Lakers' most important defensive player, and his absence from the 2008 NBA finals was one reason Los Angeles lost to Boston before winning the next two championship series with Bynum in the middle. Bynum had surgery last summer to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

Bryant played with a short fuse and a scowl even before Bynum's injury. He earned his 15th technical foul of the season for arguing in the third quarter, picking up a T in his third straight game and moving right to the brink of an NBA-mandated one-game suspension.

Bryant punctuated the tantrum by punching a chair on the bench. If he gets another technical foul in the season finale, the suspension would be for the first game of next season.

If the Spurs and Bulls finish with the same record, every tiebreaker is even, so a random drawing would determine who got homecourt advantage in the NBA finals - a nonexistent concern to Popovich, a four-time NBA champion.

The Spurs' patchwork starting lineup included Gary Neal, Tiago Splitter and George Hill Jr. The Lakers took an early 10-point lead but couldn't hold it, giving up a 13-1 run and going into halftime tied at 45 with the Spurs' role players.

San Antonio took a lead on Danny Green's jumper with 7:28 to play, but Odom's three-point play put the Lakers right back ahead.

NOTES: The Lakers played without backup point guard Steve Blake, who will miss at least two games after contracting chicken pox, and reserve forward Matt Barnes, who rested his sore right knee. ... Veteran C Theo Ratliff appeared in just his second game for the Lakers since Nov. 9, playing 2 minutes. He missed most of the season after arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. ... Fans near courtside included Dennis Haysbert and director Adam McKay.


Copyright 2011 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




9 Healthy bodies L.A. will take to Sacramento with Bynum (knee), Barnes (knee) and Blake (chicken pox) all staying in Los Angeles: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol, Odom, Brown, Walton, Smith and Ratliff.

13 Minute played by Bynum before he hyperextended his right knee, a cloud that hung over L.A. for the rest of the game.

17 Rebounds for Pau Gasol, who also played solid defense in Bynum's absence.

21 Second half points for Lamar Odom, who had only two at the half, but scored nine in both the third and fourth quarters.

35.2 Spurs shooting percentage in a game where they rested their three best offensive players in Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, the No. 1 seed locked up a bit ago.




View More Photos


Points Bryant 27, 8-21 FG
Rebounds Gasol 17, 3 OFF 14 DEF
Assists Gasol 5
Steals Brown 1
Blocks Bynum 2


POSTGAME QUOTES













LAKERS VS. SPURS GAME PREVIEW

By BRETT HUSTON

When the Los Angeles Lakers picked up their ninth straight win on the first day of April, it was becoming apparent they - and not the reeling San Antonio Spurs - had emerged as Western Conference favorites.

Five consecutive losses later, that's a title even Phil Jackson can't endorse.

The Lakers look to snap their longest losing streak in four years Tuesday night against the visiting Spurs, who will try for a fifth straight win that would put them a step closer to ensuring home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

San Antonio (61-19) has had the West's best record all season, but from the All-Star break through April 1, Los Angeles had played like the conference's top team.

The Lakers won 17 of 18 - including a 99-83 road rout of the Spurs - to pull to within 1 1/2 games of San Antonio for the West's No. 1 seed, but five straight defeats have erased that possibility. After Sunday's 120-106 home loss to Oklahoma City, Los Angeles could now finish as low as fourth.

"The measure of success is what you've just recently accomplished, it's not what's been accomplished in the past or what we did post All-Star break," Jackson said. "So, for right now we're back into the middle of the pack playing basketball."

The Lakers (55-25) haven't lost this many in a row since a seven-game skid March 2-15, 2007. Perhaps more importantly, though, they've had a total of two three-game slides in their five championship seasons since Kobe Bryant's been in Los Angeles. They've had four alone in 2010-11.

"I think we started to actually look ahead and look above as opposed to just kind of staying in the present," guard Derek Fisher said. "We lost that step and it's tough to get it back when you're playing against professionals. We'll go back to work and get ready to try and win a game on Tuesday night."

Bryant admonished the Lakers for playing "horrible defense" after Sunday's loss, but they've been excellent on that end against the Spurs despite losing two of three. They've held San Antonio to 39.9 percent shooting, though they've shot just 41.7 percent themselves.

Tony Parker has averaged 19.3 points in the series, but Los Angeles has done an outstanding job against Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan. Ginobili's been held to 9.7 points per game while shooting 28.2 percent, and Duncan has totaled 12 points and missed 21 of 26 shots in the three games while dealing with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum.

While the Lakers are struggling, San Antonio has bounced back from six consecutive losses with four victories. It's shot a combined 59.2 percent in the last two, with Richard Jefferson's 20 points leading six double-figure scorers in a 111-102 win over Utah on Saturday.

Two more victories would guarantee the Spurs home-court advantage throughout the postseason, though if they lose once and Chicago wins out, it'll come down to a random draw.

Still, San Antonio seems as concerned with staying healthy as the league's best record.

"We've played this well all season long. We'd love to finish at the top of the NBA," Duncan. "We're going to try to do the best of managing minutes, winning games and all that stuff ... at the same time, so we'll see what happens."

The Spurs have been sharing the ball lately, averaging 24.3 assists in the four straight wins - 6.3 more than during the six-game skid.

When San Antonio has at least 22 assists, it's 42-1.



Copyright 2011 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
Game Announcements
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Lakers Kobe Bryant (sprained left ankle) will play.
Matt Barnes (sore right knee) is questionable.
Steve Blake (chickenpox) is out.
Devin Ebanks (stress fracture, left tibia) is out.
Pau Gasol (bone bruise, right knee) will play.
Theo Ratliff (left knee surgery) is questionable.

None


12/28 - LAL @ SAS L 82-97
02/03 - SAS @ LAL L 88-89
03/06 - LAL @ SAS W 99-83
04/12 - SAS @ LAL


The biggest mistake we could make as we prepare for our game tonight against San Antonio is to think they will simply concede. The Spurs are still in a battle for best record in the league which guarantees home court throughout the playoffs. They also will want to get back at us for the lopsided win we had in early March in San Antonio. The Spurs have been the model of professionalism in the NBA for more than a decade and for all these reasons we know that we must have a solid effort both mentally and physically to beat them tonight. In our victory over the Spurs we held them to 36% shooting and we must have that kind of defensive effort to get the victory tonight.

Read Full Scouting Report @ Lakers Courtside Connection


GAME NOTES

SEASON& SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers trail their season series with San Antonio 1-2 after splitting last season's series with the Spurs 2-2. In their last 10 overall games, the Lakers are 5-5 against the Spurs. At home, the Lakers have lost two straight to the Spurs and are 5-5 in their last 10 games against San Antonio in Los Angeles. Overall, the Lakers are 10- 12 all-time against the Spurs at STAPLES Center. In San Antonio, the Lakers are 5- 5 in their last 10 meetings with the Spurs. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 19-22 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 playoff series meetings. Jackson (11) and Popovich (4) are the only two active coaches to have won multiple NBA Championships. In 51 career games including 46 starts against San Antonio, Bryant is averaging 24.3 points per game. On February 8, 2010, Pau Gasol helped defeat the Spurs with 21 points, 19 rebounds, 8 assists and 5 blocks, marking just the 7th time a player has accomplished that feat (at least those totals in each category in a single game) in league history. Spurs guard Manu Ginobili played for Argentina in the 2008 Beijing Olympics but suffered a foot injury in their August 22, 2008 meeting with Kobe Bryant's United States team. 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 Arizona while playing three years together for the Wildcats.

SEED CLINCHING SCENARIO
Despite a five-game losing streak, the Lakers still control their own destiny in regards to the #2 seed in the West. The Lakers magic number to clinch the #2 seed remains TWO (any combination of Lakers wins or Mavericks losses). The Lakers own tiebreakers with both Dallas and Oklahoma City in the event of identical records, while Dallas holds the tiebreaker over Oklahoma City.

BACK-TO-BACK
Tuesday's game against the Spurs is the first of a back-to-back set with San Antonio and Sacramento. This season, the Lakers are 9-5 in the first game and 11-3 in the second of back-to-backs. On the year, the Lakers will play 15 sets of back-to-back games as opposed to the 20 they faced a season ago. The only other time the Lakers have played 15 or fewer sets of back-to-backs came in the team's first ever NBA season (1948-49) when they also played 15 sets of back-to-backs. Chicago, Milwaukee and Atlanta lead the league with 23 back-to-backs each in 2010-11 while Oklahoma City (17), Phoenix (16) and the Lakers (15) will play the fewest sets this season.

BUMP IN THE ROAD
Coming off an historic 17-1 record in their first 18 games after the All-Star break, the Lakers have now dropped FIVE straight with their most recent loss April 10th vs. Oklahoma City. It is the first time the Lakers have lost five straight games since dropping seven straight in March of 2007 (3/2/07 – 3/15/07). The skid marks the 4th 3+ game losing streak of the season for the Lakers, an exceptionally rare occurrence during Phil Jackson's tenure as Lakers head coach. Only one other year has a Jackson- led Lakers team had four 3+ game losing streaks in the same season (2006-07: one 7-game streak, 6-game streak, 4-game streak and 3-game streak). Jackson's teams in 2005-06 and 2002-3 each had three 3+ game losing streaks in the same season. The 2007-08 and 2003-04 Finals bound teams had two 3+ game losing streaks each while the NBA Championship teams of 2009-10 and 2001-02 each had one 3-game losing streak. The 2008-09, 2000-01 and 1999-00 NBA Championship teams never had a 3- game losing streak during their runs to the title.

AFTER THE ALL-STAR BREAK
With their victory at Utah on April 1, the Lakers became just the 4th team since the league introduced the All-Star game in 1951 to post a 17-1 record (or better) out of the break. The 1999-2000 Lakers won their first 16 straight games after the All-Star break, eventually moving to 27-1 before recording their second loss. The only other two teams to win 17 games before recording their second loss after the All-Star Break were the 1990-91 Chicago Bulls (19-1) and 1997-98 Utah Jazz (17-1).

BRYANT NAMED KIA NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE MONTH
On April 1st, Kobe Bryant was named Western Conference Player of the Month for March 2011. The award is Bryant's 13th Western Conf. Player of the Month honor and 14th Player of the Month award overall. Bryant was also named NBA Player of the Month for December of 2000, a year before the award was divided into Eastern and Western Conferences for the 2001-02 season. The award is the first of the season for Bryant, who has won multiple Player of the Month awards in a single season four times (2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09). Bryant's previous Western Conference Player of the Month awards came in December 2009, January 2009, December 2008, April 2008, February 2008, March of 2007, December 2006, April 2006, January 2006, March 2004, January 2003 and November 2001.

Bryant averaged 25.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists while leading the Lakers to a league-best 12-1 record in March and bringing them to within 2 1⁄2 games of San Antonio for first place in the Western Conference. Bryant achieved several milestones in March: passing Moses Malone for 6th on the NBA's all-time scoring list during a 26- point performance in a win 3/8 at Atlanta as well as passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the Lakers all-time leader in games played in a win over New Orleans 3/27. Bryant also tallied a season-high 42 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in a 3 OT win over Phoenix 3/22 en route to the Western Conference Player of the Week award on 3/27.

JACKSON NAMED WESTERN CONFERENCE COACH OF THE MONTH
On April 1st, Phil Jackson was named Western Conference Coach of the Month for March 2011. The award is Jackson's fifth Western Conference Coach of the Month honor. Jackson most recently won back-to-back Western Conference Coach of the Month awards for games played in October/November 2008 and April 2008. Jackson also won back-to-back awards for April 2003 and October/November 2003. In March, Jackson led the Lakers to a league-best 12-1 (.923) mark. Prior to these honors, Jackson was last named Coach of the Month in November of 2001 before the award was divided by Conference.






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