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Spurs' bench helps lead way vs. Lakers

The SportsXchange

SAN ANTONIO -- A well-rounded bench can help a team go a long way. For the San Antonio Spurs, it has been instrumental in getting them to the top of the standings.

Guard Danny Green had 15 points, all from behind the 3-point line, and San Antonio won its ninth straight game with a 119-85 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.

Green, who was 5 of 8 from 3-point range, led a balanced scoring attack. San Antonio shot 49 percent (48 of 98) from the field and 48 percent (13 of 27) behind the arc in posting its largest winning margin of the season.

The Spurs spread the scoring around, with five bench players in double figures, including forward Matt Bonner with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and guard Marco Belinelli with 12. Forward Aron Baynes added 12 points, guard Corey Joseph 11 and forward Jeff Ayres 10. All 12 Spurs that played scored for San Antonio (49-16).

"It's been instrumental in us continuing to win games and continue to stay in the hunt as far as getting a good seed for the playoffs," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said on a reserve until that leads the league averaging 45 points a game. "Patty (Mills) has kind of led the way in that respect. But that whole group that comes off the bench has played well as unit."

It took awhile for San Antonio to get going. The Spurs started the game 1 of 9 from the field and the Lakers led 10-9. San Antonio proceeded to go on a 20-4 run and was up 29-14 by the end of the quarter.

The Spurs stepped up their defense, forcing the Lakers into 4-of-22 shooting from the field in the first quarter with six turnovers and six blocked shots.

San Antonio, which has not lost since Feb. 21 in Phoenix, continued to keep its offense in high gear. Green led the Spurs in scoring in the first half with nine points.

A 3-pointer by Patty Mills with a minute left in the half pushed the Spurs' lead to 28. San Antonio went into the locker room leading 61-34.

Baynes extended their lead to 35, the largest margin of the game, when his thunderous running dunk that made it 86-51 with three minutes left in the third quarter.

"We were focused. Great team basketball," Spurs guard Tony Parker said. "We shared the ball and everybody played great tonight. That's what we want; everybody get on the court and we rest the starters."

With the game in hand, all of San Antonio's starters sat in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers, with nine players in their rotation, were led by center Pau Gasol with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Guard Jodie Meeks added 15 points as Los Angeles (22-44) dropped its sixth straight game to the Spurs and third in a row.

"This season has been rough in many, many ways," Pau Gasol said when asked if this this was his worst season in his career. "We still try to go out there and compete, and the load is just getting bigger and bigger. We don't seem to click a lot of times. I agree. It's definitely one of the worst seasons as far as the collective results and record, especially when you're a franchise like the (L.A.) Lakers. You don't expect to have a season like this."

The struggling Lakers were outrebounded 64-37 and shot 34 percent (31 of 91) from the field.

They attempted 21 3-pointers and only connected on four, while giving San Antonio 17 points on 10 turnovers.

"They just took it to us," Los Angeles coach Mike D'Antoni said after the game. "We just did not have the intensity or wherewithal to hang in there. They carved us up pretty good. They are playing really, really, really well. That is probably the best we have seen all year."

The teams play again Wednesday in Los Angeles.

NOTES: With Friday night's win, the Spurs' trio of F Tim Duncan, G Manu Ginobili and G Tony Parker moved into sole second place in number of games won by a trio with 491. They now need 50 more wins to surpass the Boston Celtics' Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish for first place all time. ... The last five games, the Lakers have allowed an average of 129 points and 50 percent shooting from the floor by their opponent, which is the most points allowed in a five-game span since 1992. They have gone 1-4 during that period. ... Los Angeles coach Mike D'Antonio played for San Antonio in 1977-78 and was a scout during the 1999-2000 season. ... San Antonio leads the league in 3-point field-goal percentage, shooting 40 percent for the season.
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