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San Antonio vs Los Angeles, Final Score: Kobe's last stand almost clips the Spurs

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The Spurs sleepwalked through much of the game and were missing Manu Ginobili, but managed to pull out a win at the end from a determined Lakers team led by Kobe Bryant's 25 points on his last trip to San Antonio as a player.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs won a close one, fresh off a game where they blew out the Mavericks, despite seeming tired and disinterested for much of the night. They really missed having Manu Ginobili to come off the bench and bring energy to the team. The Lakers, in Kobe's last game at San Antonio, were the aggressor for much of the game, and were in it until the end, when clutch plays from Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard led the team to a win, preserving the lead and San Antonio's home winning streak.

Kobe Bryant had a very Kobe night, hitting ridiculous shots to keep his team in the game, but also only shot 9-28 for the night, which was one of the major reasons that the Lakers lost.

Game flow:

The Spurs started off looking a bit tired, but LaMarcus Aldridge used his size and strength to draw fouls and get off shots in the paint. Tony had a great fake that literally sprained Roy Hibbert's ankle, unfortunately, the basket didn't go in, and Hibbert had to leave the game.  That's two unfortunate things.

Kobe Bryant hit his first shot, but was 1-5 for the quarter, but had a couple of nice looking assists to open teammates ... I'm not even sure I really saw that.  The Spurs were cold for most of the quarter, but the bench came in late and Patty Mills used screens to get open shots and score.  Jonathon Simmons closed out the scoring in the first with a Manu Ginobili-like drive to the basket to put the Spurs up 29-20 at the end of the quarter.

The Spurs, who were laser-sharp in their previous outing against the Mavericks, were sloppy early in the second quarter, but LaMarcus Aldridge kept pounding the rock and the Spurs kept pace for the first six minutes.

Let's face it, the Lakers aren't a good team, but the Spurs were facing a little pre-rodeo road trip ennui, and seemed to be unable to outplay them. Clarkson hit a three with three and a half minutes left and cut the lead to just three at 41-38. Lou Williams hit an Alley-Oop after a free throw from Kawhi to bring the Lakers to within a basket.  Boban Marjanovic answered on the other end with an and-one,  The Spurs had some defensive lapses, but Mills hit a three-point shot to push the lead to six. Lou Williams got fouled on a three point attempt, and Boban fouled Robert Sacre to bring the Lakers to within a single point, and Julius Randle scored on the next possession to give the Lakers a lead at 51-50.

Kawhi Leonard came back with 4 quick points on a basket and a pair of free throws to stake the Spurs to a narrow 54-51 lead. Mills desperation shot at the buzzer clanked off the rim, and the Spurs players reluctantly headed for the locker room, where one would expect that they might be confronted with an unhappy white-haired dude with a beard.

Kobe injected a bit of energy to start the third for the Lakers, and they traded baskets with the Spurs who had trouble finding their agression. Kawhi Leonard was just a little off, and he couldn't score despite getting to the basket a few times. This is the part of the game where Manu Ginobili comes in and puts his imprint on the game, but with him at home and hurting, the Spurs had to find someone else to help get them going.  David West did his part on defense, bring down a man's rebound, and later blocking a shot by Sacre that led to an and-one from Kawhi to stake the Spurs to 73-66 lead.  Kobe, who had been missing at range all night, finally hit on a trio of threes, including a foul on the third for 10 quick points to bring the Lakers to just a point behind the Spurs, 77-76. Leonard switched onto Kobe and kept his from scoring for the rest of the quarter, but the Lakers other players were getting rebounds and putbacks. D'Angelo Russell hit a three-point shot to put the Lakers ahead 81-79 at the end of the third. Kobe did most of the damage in the quarter, with 16 points.

The Spurs were paying a price for allowing the Lakers to gain confidence, but with Kobe on the bench to start the fourth, maybe they could right the ship. It wasn't to be as Russel hit a pair of free throws, Lou Williams hit a three and Tarik Black got an easy dunk on a Spurs defensive breakdown.  Pop called timeout, and Danny Green got hot, hitting a pair of threes to tie the score at 90. West hit a basket on an up and under move, but Russell answered with another three to put the Lakers ahead 93-92 with Kobe still on the bench.

After a timeout, Kobe re-entered the game with 6 minutes left and missed his first two shots.  The Spurs turned up the defense, leaving the Lakers late in the shot clock with no good looks and it paid off with a few bad shots and turnovers.  Kobe, despite being closely guarded by Kawhi, got off a three that tied the game.  Danny answered, but then Lou Wiliams came back with another three for the Lakers to tie it again.  Parker scored a basket and finally got a stop but they couldn't extend the lead. West fouled Randle with 1:17 left and he hit one of two to bring the Lakers to within one. Nail biting time ...

Parker scored on a back door cut.  Kobe air-mailed a three point attempt that Randle tried to save, but landed on a photographer and hurt his leg.  That was unfortunate.  Nick Young, better known as Swaggy P, came in for Randle with 47 seconds left and the Spurs leading 103-100.  Pop called a timeout to make sure the Spurs got a two for one--which they executed perfectly, with LaMarcus scoring and getting fouled.  Unfortunately, LaMarcus missed the free throw and fouled on the rebound.  Kobe hit his free throws and closed the Lakers to within 3 with 30 seconds left, which means that they would still get the ball back once more.  Green took a shot with eight seconds left and missed, but Kawhi Leonard outhustled everyone and got to the rebound, and just about ran out the clock until someone on the Lakers remembered to foul Boris Diaw with just over a second left.  Boris hit one of two shots, and the desperation three from Lou Williams missed, and the Spurs escaped with a 106-102 win.

Observations:

  • Kawhi had a bad night shooting the ball, but he hustled on defense and made the key play at the end by grabbing the rebound that sealed the game. In the meeting of two All Star starters tonight, I would say that it was pretty even.  Kobe was better on offense, but Kawhi made the key stops and rebounds that won the game for his team.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge was the most consistent player tonight for the Spurs. When almost no one else could score, he kept his team in the game.  He proved he deserved an All Star spot.
  • Danny had a really good game and provided scoring punch when the team needed it. I guess Pop knows what he's doing keeping him in the starting lineup.

Music Break:

Warning, mild profanity.

Road Trip!

The Spurs aren't going to play at the AT&T Center again until early March, but you can still go there and watch the Rodeo.  Their next game is on Tuesday at 7:00 PM CT against the Heat. They're doing well in the East this year and it will be a tough start to the annual Rodeo Road Trip.  The Spurs are now 43-8. The Spurs also have won their last four games. The Spurs are comfortably ensconced in second place in the Western Conference of the NBA, and we all know who's in first.