Kobe Returns, Spurs Crush Lakers in San Antonio

The Los Angeles Lakers were quickly handed an opportunity to seek revenge on Friday night for their worst loss of the season Tuesday when they fell to the San Antonio Spurs 91-112. The Spurs, who are sitting pretty in first place in the Western Conference, completely crushed the Lakers after going on an 18-0 run in the second quarter. With L.A. holding onto a mere one game lead over the Clippers in the third seed in the West, anything to get them a step ahead to walk out of San Antonio with a victory is needed. They’re getting just that.

Kobe Bryant has returned from injury. After taking role as coach while wearing the classy suit and tie each game since April 6th, he is finally back after missing seven games due to a shin injury. The rest of the Lakers squad went 5-2 with him sitting aside. He stated that he enjoyed his time being able to watch the rest of the guys on the floor because he was able to see what they could do without him present. This has been especially true of both Andrew Bynum and Metta World Peace, who have both stepped up offensively to dominate any team they come up against.

In order to have the opposite outcome of Tuesday’s game, the Lakers needed to shut down Tony Parker early. Parker, who dropped a whopping 29 points in 14-20 shooting, controlled the flow of the game on both sides of the court. If the Lakers could capitalize on Kobe Bryant’s comeback and their two big men, they should be able to easily snatch up another win versus San Antonio.

First Quarter

Kobe Bryant started off the game with a bang, putting in a layup while drawing a foul to complete a three-point play. The Spurs answered with an upped tempo and scored a responding eight points, including a pair when Tony Parker blitzed around Sessions to drain a jumper. Parker continued to find himself within high pick and roll situations, and in the first four minutes both he and Duncan had combined for 10 of San Antonio’s 12 points. With the Lakers slacking on defense and the fans in San Antonio getting excited, Mike Brown opted for a timeout.

Andrew Bynum finally realized how effective he is when he utilizes his strength in the paint, and walked back onto the court, drew a foul, and put up both free throws. He was unable to make a field goal until his fourth attempt, however, which was the drastic opposite from his mark Tim Duncan, who had a big twelve points in the first quarter alone.

The Lakers continued to be unfortunate from the field, while defensive mismatches on the opposite end made the first quarter one to forget. Every time the Spurs took the ball down the court, they came back down the other end two points richer. A big three from Ginobili with less than five seconds remaining was the icing on the cake for the Spurs to end the quarter with the momentum in their favor, but Bynum received the ball on the other end of the floor and with a nice spin move tossed in a layup to beat the buzzer. The Spurs were still able to end the first quarter on top by seven, with a 32-25 lead over the Lakers.

Second Quarter

Metta World Peace got the ball rolling in the second quarter for the Lakers by putting in the first bucket. With a lot of the big names taking seats on the bench, including both Duncan and Parker, the Lakers second string had an opportunity to get back into the game. Steve Blake drained his first field goal attempt of the game, which was from beyond the arc, to tie the game up at 32. Matt Barnes, who has been a solid asset coming off of the bench in the later portion of this season, completed a three point play in the next possession to give L.A. the lead for the first time since the first quarter.

Josh McRoberts even showed off some skill in the paint, putting in a close range two to keep the Lakers hot offense surging. The Spurs began turning the ball over and fouling the Lakers on every defensive play, but then Tony Parker made his presence known once again with a quick burst of speed to put in an easy layup. With Parker’s hot shooting and him dishing out assists left and right, the Spurs were able to regain a four point lead with a little over three minutes remaining in the half, forcing another L.A. timeout.

Ginobili stepped back onto the court to drain yet another three, putting the Spurs on a 10-0 run, not surprisingly at the same time period their 18-0 run occurred against the Lakers on Thursday. After Bynum once again drew in another foul to sink two free throw shots, Metta World Peace crushed a three to put Los Angeles down only five. Kobe Bryant was unable to find his offensive groove in the first half after shooting a weak, in Kobe standards, 2-6 with seven points. The Lakers had to put up a much better performance in the second half to get back into this game, and they were lucky to only be trailing 52-56 at halftime.

Third Quarter

San Antonio went on a 6-2 run in the first minute of the second half, and the Lakers had no real answers until Kobe Bryant finally hit a shot from beyond the arc. The Spurs kept pushing forward,  however, with four of their five starters scoring in the first three minutes of the second quarter in comparison to only Bryant and Bynum working together for three baskets in the same amount of time. The Lakers were unable to put any of their shot attempts in, and the duo of Bynum and Gasol looked like they were uninterested in grabbing any offensive rebounds to keep their possessions alive.

Kobe Bryant continued to come alive, drawing in fouls while putting up his trademarked pump fakes, but no pretty baskets could stop the Duncan and Parker offense that continues to make San Antonio such a threat as playoffs reaches closer. The Spurs hit their highest lead of the game at ten, and a beautiful move by Pau Gasol when he cut across the lane and took it to the hole was the first glimpse at an organized offense the Lakers had seen in ages.

San Antonio were right back at it again, pulling away farther and farther until they were up 16 points with under four minutes remaining in the quarter. Once again, the Spurs were on an 11-0 run, up 19 points, and the Lakers turned to Steve Blake to drop a three to end the drought. The Lakers began slacking on defense, and just as soon as it ended, Ginobili hit a three to put the Spurs back up 19. Such a strong third quarter performance by the Spurs clearly meant the Lakers needed a miracle to get back into this game, as San Antonio went into the fourth ahead 91-73.

Fourth Quarter

Matt Bonner hit San Antonio’s seventh three-pointer out of ten attempts to take a 21 point lead as soon as the quarter started, and on their next trip down the court, Bonner struck again with a two point bucket. Los Angeles were getting destroyed defensively, with impressive passes from all angles of the floor penetrating the basket, racking up more and more points for the home side. The Spurs got all the way to a 25 point lead with 100 points on the score board, and there was still nine minutes remaining in the game.

Ramon Sessions finally had a highlight in the game, charging to the basket and drawing a foul to complete the three point play. With Ginobili, Parker and Duncan all on the bench, however, Mike Brown brought in some faces the Lakers have not had a chance to see yet clearly, including Jordan Hill. Hill got himself to the line as soon as he entered the game, and hit both free throws.

The lack of rebounds from the Lakers big men and dominant numbers from the Spurs bench was an immediate recipe for disaster, and the Lakers once again fell to the Spurs, 121-97.

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