Having taken over the best record in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Lakers will try to extend their winning streak to 12 games when they look for the season sweep over the visiting San Antonio Spurs.
The Lakers have won 11 consecutive games, including a 97-86 win over the Seattle SuperSonics on Friday night, as Kobe Bryant scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter. The win lifted the Lakers a half-game ahead of Sacramento and Minnesota for the top spot in the Western Conference.
“Our motivation all along in the second half of the season was just to get better, to re-establish our rhythm and gain some momentum heading into the playoffs,” Bryant said.
“In the process of doing that, we’ve put ourselves atop the Western Conference, but it’s important not to lose sight of what our original intentions were.”
The Lakers are an NBA best 22-4 since the All-Star break. They won on the road on Friday despite a 4 a.m. arrival that could have worn them down after a homecourt win over Houston.
“We’re playing good, playing with energy,” said Shaquille O’Neal. “Everybody looks good from 1-12. It’s a good time to be looking good.”
They’ve played well against the defending NBA champion Spurs this season, beating them in all three meetings.
Last season, San Antonio swept all four regular-season matchups and eliminated Los Angeles in the conference semifinals.
The Spurs are playing nearly as well as the Lakers coming into Sunday’s game, having won five straight and seven of eight, after beating Utah 94-81 on Friday. San Antonio has closed within two games of the No. 1 spot in the West.
“I think we are getting into that championship shape,” said Devin Brown, who had a career-high 19 points and pulled down seven rebounds.
Tim Duncan scored just one point in the first quarter, but finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds. He was outscored by Brown, whose previous career high was just 11, set Jan. 26 against Milwaukee.