Ginobili, Hill Lead Spurs in Loss
SAN ANTONIO (NBA.com exclusive) -- 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.