THE FACTS: Fourth time was a charm for San Antonio.
Down a point and after three straight misses, the Spurs got the biggest contribution from their most veteran player, Antonio McDyess. After a jumper by Tim Duncan went long, McDyess managed to get his left hand on the ball and tipped in the game-winning, buzzer-beating basket to steal an 89-88 victory over the Lakers Thursday at Staples Center.
The Spurs (41-8) are now 2-0 in head-to-head matchups against the Lakers this season with two more to go. More importantly, they are 7.5 games ahead of the Lakers in the Western Conference standings and 8-2 in their last 10 games. This was a huge win after dropping a 99-86 decision to the Blazers in the first game of their nine-game rodeo trip. In the victory, Tony Parker had a game-high 21 points. Richard Jeffersonchipped in with 18 points and Manu Ginobili added 14.
The Lakers (34-16) are now 5-5 in their last 10 games and are tied with Dallas with the second best record in the West. They are 9-10 against teams over .500 and 1-6 against the NBA's elite teams. Things don't get any easier. The Lakers now head on a seven-game road trip, starting with the Hornets on Friday, the second game of a back-to-back. "Obviously, it is a setback," said Pau Gasol of the loss. "It was a game that we would have loved to win. We did a lot of good things tonight. We had the game in our hands and couldn't grab that rebound at the end." Kobe Bryant tallied 16 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. Gasol chipped in with 19 points and seven rebounds. Lamar Odom added 16.
This was a heart-breaking loss for the Lakers, who had an 88-87 lead with 22.7 seconds remaining in the game following a pair of Gasol free throws. After a timeout, the Spurs got Ginobili a wide-open 3-pointer on the right wing, but his shot was long. McDyess grabbed the rebound and Parker wound up driving into the lane and flicking an 8-foot floater that rattled out. Off the miss, Ron Artest poked the ball out of bounds with 4.6 seconds to go. After a Spurs timeout, the ball went into Duncan in the post. His 11-foot fadeaway on the right elbow bounced off the back iron, but McDyess managed to stretch out his left hand and tipped in the miss at the buzzer.
QUOTABLE: "I haven't had too many [game-wining shots], probably two or three. It was big. Probably the biggest one I've ever [had]."
-- McDyess, who had six offensive rebounds, on his game-winning tip-in.
QUOTABLE II: "They just got a great bounce. It bounced right to him."
-- Kobe Bryant on the final play.
THE STAT: 14.3 -- The percentage the Lakers shot from long range (2-for-14).
TURNING POINT: After the Duncan jumper went long, McDyess positioned himself right under the rim for the tip-in. Odom was right next to McDyess, but didn't even try to box out the 15-year veteran.
QUOTABLE III: "I got caught watching a bit."
-- Lamar Odom on McDyess getting the game-winning tip and not boxing out.
HOT: After a slow 2-for-7 start in the first half, Parker picked up his game considerably. His speed and mid-range jumper killed the Lakers in the third period. He scored 14 of San Antonio's 17 points during one stretch in the third quarter. He was 6-for-6 shooting in that period. Parker finished the game with 21 points on 9-for-17 from the field.
NOT: Even though Bryant finished with a near triple-double, he had his worst shooting game in about a month. He missed 13 of 18 shots from the field as Ginobili and Jefferson did a solid job on Bryant defensively.
QUOTABLE IV: "I thought we did as good a job as you can do on Kobe Bryant. You know, he's the best player on the planet and we showed him a crowd, and after that you've got to live what you get."
-- Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on San Antonio's defense on Bryant.
FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: Jefferson scored 10 of the team's first 16 points, torching Artest and Lakers with his jumper. Jefferson scored 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting. He also sank four 3-pointers. Jefferson has scored in double figures in the last four games and tallied 18 points twice.
NOTABLE: Lakers center Andrew Bynum returned to action after missing Tuesday's game against the Rockets with a bone bruise in his left knee. He finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high six assists. ... Artest had one of his better games this year, tallying 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting, five rebounds and two steals. He was 1-for-4 from the free throw line, however. ... McDyess wasn't the only one to have a buzzer-beater in the game. Spurs guard Gary Neal had a sweet 10-foot baseline flick at the buzzer after a heads-up play by -- guess who? -- McDyess, who tapped the ball to Neal. The shot gave the Spurs a 22-18 lead in the first quarter. ... Duncan was named to the NBA All-Star Game in each of his 13 seasons, a feat only Bob Cousy, Jerry West and Shaquille O'Neal have accomplished in NBA history. He had an off night, however, finishing with eight points on 3-for-12 shooting and eight rebounds. "Unexpected," said Duncan of being named as a reserve. "Obviously a great honor. I wish Tony could have been there. He definitely deserves it, even more than me. But, absolutely an honor and I'm happy to go."
UP NEXT: For the Lakers, Friday @ New Orleans, Sunday @ Memphis, Thursday @ Boston. For the Spurs, Friday @ Sacramento, Tuesday @ Detroit, Wednesday @ Toronto.