The San Antonio Spurs are in town to play the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on the 10 year anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s 81-point game. The Spurs have the second best record in the NBA and have been playing just as well as the Golden State Warriors, so this will be a tough one for the Lakers to steal.
The Lakers may have a bit of hope, however, because LaMarcus Aldridge will be sitting out tonight with back spasms. Kobe should come out energized on the anniversary of the second greatest scoring performance in NBA history, and the rest of the team should look to redeem themselves after a poor performance against the Sacramento Kings.
The Lakers struck first with back-to-back set shots by Roy Hibbert assisted by Kobe Bryant, but the Spurs answered with five quick points of their own. Midway through the first quarter the Lakers led the Spurs 12-11 after Kawhi Leonard converted a dunk plus a free throw to complete a three-point play. Leonard’s dunk sparked a 10-0 Spurs run, but Randle finally stopped the bleeding with a jumper that gave him six points on the evening. The Spurs put on a clinic with their ball movement and the Lakers trailed 16-23 with 2:16 remaining in the first quarter. Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell nailed back-to-back threes within the last minute, but at the end of the first the Lakers trailed 22-31.
Three minutes into the third quarter, Ryan Kelly converted a three-point play and the Lakers cut their deficit to five points. Manu Ginobili had his way offensively against the Lakers, scoring 11 points off the bench and pushing the Spurs lead to ten points midway through the second quarter. Jordan Clarkson made an incredibly difficult double-pump three with the shot clock expiring to cut the Lakers deficit to five points with 3:19 remaining in the half. After Clarkson’s three, the Spurs went on an 8-0 run and the Lakers did not have an answer. The Lakers shot 40 percent from the field and trailed 43-56 at the end of the first half.
The Lakers started the third quarter with solid defense and outscored the Spurs 7-4 three minutes into the half. Hibbert put a nifty spin move on Tim Duncan and finished aggressively at the rim with a right-handed dunk, but the Lakers still trailed by 12. Kobe Bryant hit a corner three for his fifth point of the game and cut the Lakers deficit down to six with 5:13 left in the third quarter. After the Lakers cut the lead down to six, the Spurs quickly pushed it back up to 13 points with 2:30 remaining in the quarter. Manu Ginobili nailed a three to give him 20 points on the evening and the Lakers trailed 71-87 at the end of the third quarter.
The Lakers started the fourth quarter slow and the Spurs pushed their lead to 23 points with 8:54 remaining in the game. Ryan Kelly left the game with 7:29 to go in the fourth after colliding with Anthony Brown as he was going after a loose ball and the Lakers still trailed by a huge margin. The Lakers lone highlight of the quarter came by way of a two-handed dunk by Tarik Black off of the slick bounce pass from Russell. Black provided another monstrous dunk a few minutes later, and the Lakers were down 89-106 with 2:40 left in the game. Julius Randle finished the game with a fast break dunk and the Lakers lost 95-108.