Game Notes: Spurs at Lakers
With Bryant and Bynum out, Gasol goes off.
Whoever said the Lakers couldn’t win without Kobe Bryant was sadly mistaken.
For the second time in as many games, the Purple and Gold went out and handled business, defeating the Spurs 101-89 on Monday night while No. 24 received treatment on his bum ankle and watched from the Staples Center sidelines.
The win comes days after Bryant missed an impressive 99-82 victory at Portland, snapping his string of playing in 235 consecutive games.
Speaking of impressive, Pau Gasol was impressive from start to finish against San Antonio. Seemingly unstoppable on both ends off the floor, he finished with 21 points, 19 rebounds, 8 assists and 5 blocks in 46 minutes of action.
Four other Lakers scored in double figures. Ron Artest had 18 points, Lamar Odom added 16 and Jordan Farmar and Derek Fisher ended up 13 points apiece. It’s worth noting that Shannon Brown and Sasha Vujacic had 8 each.
Apparently, Los Angeles isn’t a one-man show.
Bryant status for Wednesday’s game at Utah is unclear at this point, although he indicated that if he‘s capable of playing, giving it a go, that he‘ll be out there in the lineup. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen.
*** Andrew Bynum will be in civilian clothes. He’s been troubled by a swollen left knee and now you can add a bruised right hip to the list of his injury problems. As it stands now, Bynum won’t play against the Jazz later this week.
*** Tim Duncan is a pro’s pro. Well before the opening tip, The Big Fundamental is out on the court, working on his game. He starts with some free-throws, moves to baseline and fires up a few jumpers before working his way over to the wing and knocking down a several bank shots. Dude is fun to watch, regardless of the circumstance.
*** Magic Johnson is in the house. And he’s making his rounds, stopping and talking to the media, and fans alike. You know, it’s funny, there’s something about that infectious smile of his that always seems to light up a room.
*** The Lakers have no answer for Tony Parker early on. He hits a pair of baskets inside and a couple mid-range buckets to give the Spurs a five-point lead at 8:22. Parker finishes with 12 points in the first 12 minutes.
*** Odom answers. With Parker draped all over his back following a switch, Odom takes the ball to the hole, with relative ease, for an easy dunk to give the Lakers their first advantage of the game,12-11, with 6:56 left.
*** Here comes Manu Ginobli. At 6:16, he comes off the bench and makes an immediate impact. Ginobli buries a three-pointer, makes a floater in the lane and converts four free-throws. The Spurs are back on top by nine points.
*** At the end of one, the Lakers trail 34-28. Odom, however appears to be on his way to a triple-double. He has 7 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists this far.
*** Gasol is the only starter on the floor. He’s joined by Luke Walton, Josh Powell, Farmar and Vujacic. It will be interesting to see where the offense comes from.
*** Vujacic gets hot from the perimeter. He knocks down his first three shots, two from way downtown, to give the Lakers a 35-34 lead at 10:34.
*** What is Walton thinking? He fouls Richard Jefferson on a three-pointer which makes no sense considering how poorly the veteran has been playing lately. Jefferson steps to the line and makes two of three from the stripe. Spurs are up three with 8:32 left.
*** Parker is up to his old tricks. He weaves down the lane, draws the defense toward him before dropping off a nice pass to Duncan for an uncontested layup. Lakers trail 44-41 with 4:01 remaining before the break.
*** The Lakers go on a 9-3 run to close out the half and take a three-point advantage at intermission. Gasol has 6 points and 10 rebounds so far.
*** Brown does what he does best: Play above the rim. In the opening minutes, Artest tosses an alley oop that Brown snatches out of the air with both hands and finishes with his right to extend the lead to 52-47.
*** Gasol scores seven straight points, highlighted by a three-point play the conventional way. The Lakers start putting some distance between themselves and the struggling Spurs, 61-53, at the 6:56 mark.
*** Poor Duncan. He bites on an Odom pump fake and nearly ends up falling. Odom proceeds along the baseline and dunks over DeJaun Blair to give the Lakers a nine-point advantage with 3:55 remaining.
*** Parker and Blair combine for eight points down the stretch. Ginobli makes a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 73-68 at the end of three.
*** Duncan has been on the bench for a while, perhaps too long. At 7:00 he returns, but it might be too late. The Spurs are down seven points. Time is of the essence from here on out.
*** Gasol gets busy. Again. He makes a pair of free-throws and is on the receiving end of no-look pass from Ron Artest that leads to a slam.. The Lakers increase the lead to 90-79 with 3:43 remaining on the clock.
*** Fisher hit’s a jumper, Ginobli fouls him on the play and he converts the subsequent free-throw to give make it a 95-81 game at 1:47. This one is over. Well almost, seconds remain. That’s all she wrote, Lakers win, 100-89.
*** Parker, with his wife Eva Longoria in attendance, finished with 20 points and 8 assists. Afterward, he acknowledged the well-rounded effort put forth by the Lakers, saying, “Especially with Kobe out, you’re going to have guys who are going to step up and that’s what they did.”
*** In the locker room, Bryant did his best to fend off questions about his injury and whether it would keep him out of the All-Star Game this weekend in Dallas, Tex. “I can’t move to play. Can’t go,” he said. “If I’m ready to go, I’ll play. I don’t know what it’s going to look like on Sunday. I’m not clairvoyant. I’m not an idiot. If it’s an injury where I feel like I can play through it and have it heal while I’m playing, then I’ll play. But if it’s the type of injury where it’s going to get worse when I play, then I won’t.” Seems fair enough. Stay tuned for more details.