Kobeless Lakers beat the Spurs 101-89
No Kobe, still no problem for the Los Angeles Lakers.Pau Gasol had 21 points, 19 rebounds, eight assists and five blocked shots to lead five players in double figures, and Los Angeles beat the San Antonio Spurs 101-89 Monday night as Bryant missed his second consecutive game with a sore left ankle.Andrew Bynum sat out with a bruised right hip.In their absences, the Lakers used a collective effort to win in their final home game before this weekend’s All-Star break. Ron Artest added 18 points, Lamar Odom 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Jordan Farmar and Derek Fisher had 13 each.”It’s got to be reassuring for the rest of the team and for the guys that don’t play that much that are now stepping up,” Gasol said. “It was fun. It was a good challenge for us.
We played hard and got a nice win.”Manu Ginobili scored 21 points, Tony Parker 20, Tim Duncan had 16 points and 15 rebounds and Antonio McDyess 12 rebounds for the Spurs, who have lost four in a row to the Lakers at Staples Center.”We knew they were going to come hard and going to play hard,” Parker said. “Especially with Kobe out, you’re going to have guys who are going to step up and that’s what they did.”Los Angeles again showed it could win without Bryant. The Lakers snapped a five-year losing streak at Portland with a victory Saturday, when Bryant ended his streak of 235 consecutive games played and Bynum missed the second half.Bryant said he skipped another game because he can’t push off on his left foot.”I can’t move to play. Can’t go,” he said, adding he would be a game-time decision Wednesday at Utah. “If I’m ready to go, I’ll play.”Lakers trainer Gary Vitti would like Bryant to rest through All-Star weekend in Dallas. Bryant said he couldn’t commit either way at this point.”I don’t know what it’s going to look like on Sunday. I’m not clairvoyant,” he said, laughing. “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.”The Lakers extended their lead to 81-70 early in the fourth, equaling their largest lead to that point, capped by Shannon Brown‘s 3-pointer.Mostly though, the final period was a messy affair, with the Spurs throwing the ball away on three occasions and the Lakers stumbling through a cold stretch after their strong start.But they regrouped and ended the game on a 17-11 run after going 4 1/2 minutes without a field goal.”We finished relatively well for a game that seemed to be a struggle,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “I don’t think we’re playing that well, but we are winning the games. We settle in and play good defense. We can shoot the ball better than we are doing.”Los Angeles led 68-57 on a 14-4 run in the third. Gasol scored seven in a row and Odom had three. But the Spurs closed the quarter with an 11-5 spurt, capped by Ginobili’s 3-pointer, to trail 73-68 going into the fourth.”The Lakers were obviously a little shorthanded and played mentally tougher than we did and physically tougher than we did,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “Don’t ask me why.”Luke Walton, Sasha Vujacic, Farmar and Josh Powell started the second quarter for the Lakers along with Gasol. The youngsters’ energy paid off as the Lakers scored the first seven points to take their first lead since early in the game.The Lakers made 5 of 6 free throws to end the half ahead 50-47.The Spurs raced to a 9-0 lead to open the game before Artest sparked the Lakers’ offense with consecutive 3-pointers. Parker scored 12 of his 15 first-half points in the opening quarter when he wasn’t dishing off in traffic.