Spurs continue run at home, beating visting Lakers

Danny Sanchez, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs knew they had a wounded and struggling Los Angeles Lakers team visiting their arena, where they are now 15-2.
They almost let their guard down and allowed their Western Conference rivals to steal one in San Antonio. Almost.
The Spurs got 24 points from Tony Parker and extended their home winning streak to 11 games in defeating the Lakers 108-105 Wednesday night at the AT&T Center.
Parker was 10 of 16 from the field and 4-for-5 from the free-throw line as San Antonio improved to 28-10.
They needed every point, as the Spurs nearly wasted a 16-point fourth-quarter lead.
Kobe Bryant, ever the competitor, closed the gap to five when he hit a 3-pointer midway in the fourth. A rare four-point play was aided by a technical foul, and the free throw by Steve Nash cut the lead to five, 105-100, with three minutes left.
Manu Ginobili then hit a crucial 3-pointer to give the Spurs a 108-102 lead with 40 seconds remaining, but 10 seconds later, Earl Clark cut it to three on a 3-point basket of his own.
However, it wasn't enough as the Lakers had two chances to tie the game, but both Bryant's and Clark's 3-point attempts rimmed off.
"We made some good stops in the end," said Parker. "We need those to win the game. In basketball, it can go both ways quickly and luckily it went our way tonight."
The struggling and shorthanded Lakers were fighting for a much-needed win. Los Angeles, on a five-game losing streak, was without its two All-Star big men -- Dwight Howard (torn labrum) and Pau Gasol (concussion).
"We have lost five games in a row, it is pretty self explanatory," said a dejected Bryant. "We played very hard and I think we figured a few things out. We still have to straighten some things out on the defensive end, but I feel like we competed and that was very important."
Up by 10 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Spurs went with what has got them on the hot streak all season -- the 3-point shot. They were 12 of 25 from the 3-point line, and the league leaders in assists, they dished out 25.
Steven Jackson had 14 off the bench, including three 3-pointers in the final period, but the most important 3-pointer was Ginobili's.
Jackson also had two technical fouls in the fourth quarter and was ejected.
Tiago Splitter had 14 points and 14 rebounds, while Ginobili had 19, Gary Neal 12 and Kawhi Leonard 11.
"It was a very hard game as we expected," said Ginobili. "The disappointing thing was our offense. We really played poorly, especially in the second half. Everything was slow and we were not sharp or aggressive, and they made us make too many mistakes too."
Los Angeles again turned to Bryant, who has carried the team and the 15-20 record. He couldn't find his shot in the first half, notching only two field goals, going 2-for-6.
Then he came alive in the third quarter, scoring 13 points, including consecutive 3-pointers to pull the Lakers within 10.
Bryant led the Lakers with 27 points, with Metta World Peace adding 23 and Nash 14.
Earl Clark had a career-high 22 points with 13 rebounds.
"I'm really proud of the way they fought," said Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni. "It wasn't always smooth. If we play with that effort and with that team sense of chemistry, then we're going to win a lot of games."
San Antonio welcomed the return home after losing two of its last three, including a loss Monday to the Western Conference's last-place team, New Orleans.
San Antonio closed the half with a Ginobili dunk, the second of the game for the 34-year-old, as the Spurs went into the locker room up 54-45.
Ginobili and Splitter each had 12 first-half points, while Parker dropped 10.
World Peace had 11 to keep the Lakers in the contest.
NOTES: The Lakers were very animated as three players got tagged with technical fouls in the third quarter for disputing a call. Kobe Bryant, Chris Duhon and Darius Morris each were assessed a technical foul. ... On Tuesday, Steve Nash became the fifth player to reach 10,000 assists, reaching the milestone in the Lakers' 125-112 loss to the Houston Rockets. He entered play Wednesday needing 136 assists to pass Magic Johnson for fourth place. ... Despite losing two of its last three games before Wednesday, San Antonio still entered the night tied for first in the NBA with 27 wins. ... Los Angeles was on an unusual skid. The last time the Lakers had a five-game losing streak was April 3-10, 2011. ... The Lakers and Spurs have met in the playoffs 11 times, which is more than any other matchup in postseason history.

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