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Spurs second-half surge enough for win over Lakers

The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- The shots started falling in the second half for the San Antonio Spurs. That turned out to be the difference in their victory Friday night over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Tony Parker scored 24 points and Manu Ginobili came off the bench to deliver 20 more as the Spurs defeated the Lakers 91-85 at Staples Center.

"We had a rough start but the second half we played better," said Parker, who hit 12 of his 18 shots and also dished out six assists. "The ball movement was better, our defense was better and it's a big win for us.

"Every road win is sweet. We'll take it."

Kawhi Leonard added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs (2-0), who handed the Lakers (1-2) their second consecutive defeat after a season-opening romp over the L.A. Clippers on Tuesday night. Boris Diaw, who started for the injured Tim Duncan, who missed the game with a chest contusion, chipped in 14 points and 14 rebounds -- seven on the offensive end. Diaw also hit a bit three-pointer late in the game.

"Boris did a good job. He knows what he can do. He stepped it up tonight," Leonard said.

Leonard said the Spurs' play in the second half allowed them to shake their first-half struggles.

"The ball just wasn't going in the hole," Leonard said. "It was a lot of rim-outs. We just kept with it and brought more energy in the second (half) with our defense and shots started falling."

Pau Gasol led the Lakers with 20 points and 11 boards. Jodie Meeks finished with 14 points and Wesley Johnson had 12.

The Lakers held an 80-78 lead after a three-point play by Meeks with 3:55 remaining in the game, but faded down the stretch. Parker, Diaw and Tiago Splitter sparked a 9-1 Spurs run for 87-81 lead with a little more than a minute. That was too much for the Lakers to overcome.

"This is a work in progress," Lakers guard Jordan Farmar said. "It's a long season. There's going to be growing pains. There's going to be ups and downs until we find our groove."

Los Angeles led by as much as 15 in the first half after two free throws by Xavier Henry gave them a 33-18 lead with 8:32 left in the second quarter. But the Spurs rallied, cutting the deficit to 42-41 at the half.

The Lakers built their double-digit advantage largely on the Spurs' early shooting woes. San Antonio managed just 7 of 28 attempts (25 percent) in the first quarter before rebounding to hit 11 of 21 (52.4 percent) in the second quarter to finish the half hitting 18 of 49 (36.7 percent). They shot 40.4 percent (38 of 94) for the game compared to 30 of 82 (36.6 percent) for the Lakers.

"The first half we missed a lot of easy layups," Parker said. "The second half was better (and we) finally made some shots. Defensively, we controlled their pick-and-roll better in the second half."

The Lakers started well, but converted just 5 of 20 shots (25 percent) in the second quarter and 13 of 40 shots (32.5 percent) in the half. Gasol had 11 of his points in the half.

The Spurs outscored the Lakers 22-19 in the third quarter to take a 63-61 lead heading into the fourth.

They won without Duncan, who was hurt in Wednesday's season-opening win over the Memphis Grizzlies. Duncan is listed as day-to-day.

Steve Nash returned to the Lakers' starting lineup after being held out of Wednesday's game at Golden State because the club wants to limit his play in back-to-back games. Nash scored only five points and recorded five assists in 23 minutes against the Spurs.

NOTES: Bryant spoke with the media before the game, saying the recovery from his torn Achilles tendon continues to progress. "I'm running a little bit more and being a little more aggressive," he said. Bryant added that it would take him three weeks of conditioning to return. He counted the past week as one of them, immediately generating speculation from reporters about his return in two weeks. "This is turning into a press conference," he joked before refusing again to give a date for his return. ... Friday's game marked the first time that both Duncan and Bryant had missed a game between the two clubs since 1996. ... The Spurs will complete their first back-to-back games of the season on Saturday at Portland. ... The Lakers play host to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday before embarking on a three-game trip to Dallas on Tuesday, Houston on Thursday and New Orleans on Friday.
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