Spurs' Stars Sidelined In Loss to Lakers

Friday, December 14th 2007, 7:32 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Even with two of their three stars watching from the sideline and the third playing poorly, the San Antonio Spurs gave the Los Angeles Lakers all they could handle. The Lakers expected nothing less.

Kobe Bryant scored 30 points, and the Lakers used an 18-5 fourth-quarter spurt to break open a close game and beat the Spurs 102-97 on Thursday night for their fourth straight victory.

``Very choppy game, but the Spurs can make you play like that. Their defense is solid, regardless of who they put out there,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

``It's the NBA. They're the Spurs. They're going to execute,'' Los Angeles forward Luke Walton said. ``We didn't play as well as we'd like, but we got the win.''

The defending NBA champion Spurs (17-5), losers of two straight for the first time this season, played without Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.

Duncan, averaging 17.6 points and 8.9 rebounds, sat out his fourth straight game because of a sprained right ankle. Parker, averaging 20.1 points and 6.8 assists, missed his first game of the season with a sprained left ankle.

``We hung in for a good long time,'' Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. ``It was tough to hang in there the whole time and then have a couple defensive situations break it open.''

The Washington Wizards beat the Miami Heat 104-91 in the only other NBA game Thursday night.

Bruce Bowen led San Antonio with 22 points _ two off his career high. Brent Barry added 17 points and Fabricio Oberto had a career-high 16 rebounds to go with nine points.

Manu Ginobili, averaging a team-leading 20.8 points, scored only 14 and committed seven of San Antonio's 16 turnovers. He shot 5-of-17 and picked up his fifth foul with 10:27 remaining and the Lakers leading 78-76.

``It was hard,'' Ginobili said. ``I tried at the beginning to play off the ball and find the open man. But we weren't making those shots, and I wasn't making mine, either. You've got to give them credit, too, they played a good defense on me.

``We just didn't execute the last 5 or 6 minutes.''

After Bowen's 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter tied it at 81, two baskets by Vladimir Radmanovic triggered the game-breaking run that gave the Lakers (13-8) a 99-86 lead with 3:40 remaining. San Antonio scored the final five points after the outcome had been decided.

The Los Angeles reserves scored 18 points in the fourth quarter and 37 overall.

``Our bench came in and did a phenomenal job getting us going,'' Bryant said. ``Defensively, we made our rotations a little bit faster and we were able to close out their shooters a little bit and make it so their shots weren't uncontested. They missed a couple of those, and we got some easy runouts.''

Lakers center Andrew Bynum picked up two technical fouls and was ejected with 4:32 left in the third quarter and the Lakers leading 63-59. He left with six points and 11 rebounds.

``Not much to say. He lost his cool for a second, he got tossed,'' Bryant said. ``Andrew should be proud _ first ejection, national TV, he went out in a blaze of glory.''

Jackson said he told the 20-year-old Bynum it was a good lesson for him.

``You've got to maintain your character, your poise,'' Jackson said. ``You're needed by your basketball club.''

Wizards 104, Heat 91

DeShawn Stevenson scored a season-high 26 points, Caron Butler added 19 points and nine rebounds and all five Washington starters reached double figures in the Wizards' victory at Miami. The Heat dropped to 2-7 at home this season.

``I'm beyond disappointed in our team,'' Heat coach Pat Riley said. ``There's no excuses. There are none. I have none. The players should have none. ... Tonight, we didn't hardly even try.''

Antawn Jamison had 16 points and 16 rebounds, Brendan Haywood added 12 points and Antonio Daniels scored 11 for Washington (12-10), which was winless in its last eight games at Miami and had dropped 15 of 16 overall to the Heat.

Chris Quinn scored a career-high 22 points and Dwyane Wade added 17 points for Miami (6-16). Shaquille O'Neal finished with only seven points in 26 minutes.