There may not have been a rousing dunk by Kobe Bryant over Tim Duncan, or a 0.4 miracle by Derek Fisher, but the Los Angeles Lakers will surely take this victory over the defending champs- with or without their two best players.
LA took care of business against a San Antonio team playing without Tim Duncan and Finals MVP Tony Parker. Duncan sat out his fourth consecutive contest with a sprained right ankle, while Parker missed his first game of the season because of a twisted ankle. The Spurs were missing 37 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists between the two players. Their teammates, however, showed enough toughness to stick with an LA team that came in on a 3 game winning streak for 3 quarters.
Back to back 3 pointers by Brent Barry and Bruce Bowen gave San Antonio a 72-69 lead before the 3rd quarter ended. Without Duncan and Parker, The Spurs’ fate lay on the shoulders of Manu Ginobili, but he struggled throughout the contest as he shot only 5-17 from the field.
A three pointer early in the 4th quarter by Bowen tied the game at 81, but Los Angeles used a 16-5 run to pull away and escape with a 102-97 victory. The Lakers, lead by Bryant’s 30 points, moved up to 5th place in the highly competitive Western Conference with this win. A win tonight against the Golden State Warriors would tie them with the Nuggets for 4th record wise.
Lakers center Andrew Bynum was ejected in the 3rd quarter as he picked up two immediate technical fouls. But the Lakers weren’t going to allow that setback to spoil their win. Said Bryant: “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.”…The Lakers play 5 of their next 6 games on the road, beginning tonight against Golden State…Kobe Bryant has made headlines the past couple of days saying he’s happy that he wasn’t traded: “I’m happy to be here,” Bryant said. “My guys and I — we have such a tight bond. Business and basketball sometimes can cloud things, but when you get here in your element and you’re around your teammates and just having a good time with them and thinking about them and not about the business of the game, that’s when it becomes fun.”