Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan will play one last game against each other when the San Antonio Spurs come into town to play the Los Angeles Lakers tonight. Both Kobe and Duncan have five rings apiece and have had incredible careers and this is the last time the two will take the hardwood together.
The Spurs are coming off of a loss last night to the Los Angeles Clippers, while the Lakers are playing their first game since the All-Star break. Head Coach Byron Scott said that the focus on the rest of the season will be winning games, but tonight will be a challenge for the Lakers as they face the second best team in the NBA. Kawhi Leonard is sitting out his second straight game with a calf injury, so the Lakers have a chance to steal one from the Spurs tonight.
The Lakers did not take care of the ball early in the game, turning it over three times, and the Spurs led 5-8 three minutes into the game. The Lakers did manage to play decent defense, but they allowed several second chance points and the Spurs were up by four after a Tim Duncan three-point play midway through the first quarter. Jordan Clarkson made his third three-pointer of the game to give the Lakers their first lead of the game, 19-18. The Spurs responded with four straight points and dominated the Lakers in the paint, outscoring them 16-0 nine minutes into the game. D’Angelo Russell took the smaller man, Patty Mills, into the post and converted on a fadeaway and the Lakers were sticking around with the Spurs. Despite Clarkson’s four three pointers, the Lakers trailed the Spurs after one, 30-33.
The Lakers continued to struggle with turnovers and the Spurs took advantage and extended their lead to eight points within the first two minutes of the second quarter. Out of a Lakers timeout, the Lakers moved the ball well on the offensive end that resulted in a two-handed jam by Larry Nance Jr. The Lakers did a better job in the second quarter getting high percentage shots and shot 59 percent halfway through the quarter, but still trailed by eight points. Kobe was not shooting well from the field, but he maneuvered through the lane and found Julius Randle slashing to the basket, who then finished with a two-handed dunk. Kobe stayed aggressive in the post, drew the help defense, and earned a trip to the free throw line, where he cut the Spurs lead to five points with 2:57 remaining in the half. The Lakers turned the ball over 13 times, and allowed the Spurs to grab 12 offensive boards, and trailed 49-60 at halftime.
Kobe Bryant came out of the locker room firing, scoring four of the Lakers six points, including a nice left-handed turnaround hook shot to give him 11 points in the game. The Spurs continued to score easily, but Kobe remained hot from the field and the Lakers trailed by 11 midway through the third quarter. The third quarter belonged to Kobe, who scored 11 of his 18 points in the quarter, but the Spurs still lead by double figures. D’Angelo Russell made a nice drive to the basket after freezing Patty Mills with the hesitation, and the Lakers trailed by just seven points. Patty Mills redeemed himself for the Spurs by knocking down a three-pointer near the end of the quarter and the Lakers trailed 75-85 after three.
The Lakers had a hard time scoring from the field early in the fourth quarter, but their four points in the quarter came from the free throw line. Russell appeared to turn his ankle as he was trying to get around a screen, but he remained in the game with 10 minutes to play. The Lakers cut their deficit to single digits with a three-pointer from Nick Young assisted by Russell. Larry Nance Jr. hustled on both ends of the floor in an effort to keep the Lakers in the game. After nearly getting a stop, Jonathon Simmons ended up with a loose ball and beat the shot clock to give the Spurs a 10 point lead. Lou Williams then answered with a near impossible four-point play, and the Lakers trailed 95-101 with 5:44 remaining in the game. The Lakers cut the Spurs’ lead down to four, but the Spurs answered with four unanswered with 3:01 to play in the game. Kobe Bryant dislocated his right index finger, but Gary Vitti popped his finger back in place and Kobe remained in the game with the Lakers down by five points with 2:10 remaining in regulation. Kobe then made a clutch floater in the lane and the lakers trailed by four, but Patty Mills nailed an open three-pointer with 1:03 to play. After Mills’ three, the game was out of reach and Kobe left the floor to a standing ovation. Final score: Lakers 113 Spurs 119.