The Los Angeles Lakers are taking their two game winning streak into the AT&T Center when they play the second best team in the league, the San Antonio Spurs. This will be Kobe Bryant’s final trip to San Antonio as the farewell tour continues. The Spurs organization played a touching tribute video for Kobe that featured Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Gregg Popovich all paying their respects to the Laker legend.
The Spurs are playing some of the best basketball in the league even though they have been overshadowed by the defending champion’s even more impressive record. The Lakers have played well in their recent games, so tonight will be the ultimate measuring stick when they play one of the best teams in basketball.
Both teams started slow from the field and the Lakers trailed by just two points early in the game after Kobe Bryant and Julius Randle both scored on jumpers. The Spurs’ strategy seemed to be to pound the Lakers in the paint, as LaMarcus Aldridge scored easily over Randle to extend their lead to four points midway through the quarter. Roy Hibbert left to the locker room with 3:54 left in the first quarter with left ankle sprain and would be done for the rest of the game. The Spurs jumped out to a nine point lead, but two jump shots from Jordan Clarkson reduced their deficit to just five points with 3:15 to play in the first. Defensively, the Lakers did not have an answer for the Spurs’ ball movement, but Jordan Clarkson’s eight points kept the Lakers in the game. At the end of the first the Lakers trailed 20-29.
The Spurs continued to run their offense through Aldridge, who made a contested shot at the end of the shot clock to give him 10 points in the game and the Spurs an 11 point lead. D’Angelo Russell exited the game with 8:46 remaining in the half after picking up his third foul of the game. Julius Randle drove into the lane for a left-handed finish in traffic and the Lakers trailed 33-39 with 5:35 to play in the second quarter. Clarkson nailed a three-pointer to cut their deficit to three-points with 4:30 to play in the half. On the following play Lou Williams found Clarkson cutting backdoor for the lob, where he finished with authority to cut the Spurs lead down to two points. Randle made a spinning lefty hook to give the Lakers their first lead of the game to cap off a 7-0 run near the end of the half. Kawhi Leonard then scored five straight points and the Lakers trailed the Spurs 51-54 at the half.
Aldridge came out of the locker room firing, scoring six points and pushing the Spurs lead to five points a few minutes into the half. Randle notched another double-double with 7:58 to go in the quarter with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Tony Parker scored back-to-back buckets and the Lakers trailed 61-70 midway through the third quarter. Kobe Bryant tossed Aldridge’s shot in the paint and then came down the floor and nailed a fadeaway jumper in semi-transition and the Lakers trailed by just four. Kobe Bryant then went down to knock down three consecutive three-pointers, including a four-point play to cut the Spurs lead to one point with 2:36 remaining in the third quarter. D’Angelo Russell knocked down a three-pointer on their last possession of the quarter to give the Lakers the lead heading into the fourth quarter, 81-79.
After Patty Mills tied the game at 81, Russell made two free throws and Lou Williams made a three-pointer to push the Lakers lead to five points with 10:03 remaining in the game. The Spurs began to heat up from beyond the arc, but Russell continued his hot shooting from long distance as well and the Lakers led by one point with 5:58 remaining in the game. Tony Parker made a pull up jumper off of a screen to give the Spurs a three point lead with 4:15 to play in the game. Kobe Bryant forced a contested three-pointer over Kawhi Leonard and nailed it in his face to tie the game at 94 apiece. Danny Green then answered with an open three of his own, but Williams responded with a three for the Lakers. Julius Randle converted one of two free throws and the Lakers trailed by three points after Parker scored on a back door layup with 1:02 remaining in the game. Randle chased a rebound out of bounds and landed on a photographer, but he managed to talk back to the bench on his own. Aldridge scored in the paint to push the Spurs lead to five points with 31.3 seconds left, but they sent Kobe to the line, who then knocked down two free throws to cut it back down to three. The Lakers got the stop they needed, but allowed an offensive rebound and that’s all she wrote. Final score: Lakers 102 Spurs 106.