SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio Spurs forward Tim Duncan and coach Gregg Popovich have been together 15 years and played in 191 playoffs games, more than any tandem in NBA history.
Getting playoff wins are not easy, but getting the first is always a good start. Especially when it's against your rival.
Duncan had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Spurs to a 91-79 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday afternoon in Game 1 of a Western Conference first-round playoff series.
The 35-year old forward was 6-of-15 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line in 35 minutes.
"It was a good start to our playoff run. We shook off a lot of cobwebs we've had over the past ten games or so," said Duncan of the Spurs who had lost seven of their last ten games. "It was a good start overall."
The Lakers, who trailed most of the game, cut the lead to four in the third quarter when Pau Gasol's turnaround jumper made it 54-50 with 4:42 left in the quarter.
Manu Ginobili then scored the final eight points of the third quarter, including two 3-pointers, to put the Spurs up 70-57.
Ginobili, who played 19 minutes, is slowly returning from a right strained hamstring that sidelined him nine games. He was key to a bench that outscored the Lakers reserves 40-10.
"Yeah, it was great to have Manu back," said Popovich. "He does what he does. He makes big shots. He creates problems for the opponent and he's got a great will, a great desire."
San Antonio's Matt Bonner pushed the lead to 16, the largest of the game, when he connected on a 3-pointer with four minutes left, making it 84-68 and electrify the sellout crowd of 18,581.
Ginobili and Tony Parker both finished with 18 points for the Spurs. Bonner added 10 as San Antonio (1-0) rebounded from a three-game losing streak to end the season.
The San Antonio defense also made a return to playoff form, forcing 18 turnover to 14 points and limiting the Lakers to two fast break points, while getting 17.
"We'll make adjustments," said Laker coach Mike D'Antonio. "I was happy with the looks we got. I wasn't happy with the turnovers that we had. To me that was the difference in the game. We just turned the ball over too many times."
Dwight Howard led the Lakers (0-1) with 20 points and 15 rebounds. In his return to the lineup, Steve Nash added 16 points and Steve Blake had 12. Gasol contributed 16 points and 16 rebounds.
They held the Spurs to shooting 38 percent from the field.
The Lakers did not take advantage of their size inside like they did in their 91-86 win over the Spurs on April 14, outscoring the Spurs in the paint just 40-32 on Sunday.
"It was the first game. We can't get discouraged because we lost the first game," said Howard. "They just made a lot of shots and we missed a lot of shots. Hopefully in Game 2 things will change."
Injured Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, posting on Twitter during the game, seemed frustrated and wrote "Post. Post. Post" in reference to Los Angeles getting the ball inside more.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series will be played Wednesday night in San Antonio.
NOTES: The Lakers and Spurs rank first and second in playoff victories the past 15 years. Los Angeles (133-81) and San Antonio (118-78) have met 11 times in playoff history, the most of any NBA teams, with the Lakers holding an 8-3 lead in the series. ... Nash returned to the starting lineup after missing the last eight games with injuries to his hip, hamstring and lower back. Asked if he was concerned about the 39-year-old Nash, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said, "He hadn't forgotten how to shoot." ... Los Angeles is the only team to have a winning record against the Spurs. The Lakers are 75-74 all-time against the Spurs. ... Bad defense coupled with injuries to key players had the Spurs skidding into the playoffs, losing seven of their last 10 regular-season games.