Kobe-less Lakers fall short against Duncan-less Spurs

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Parker scored 24 points, Ginobili added 20 with three 3-pointers and Boris Diaw, starting in place of Duncan, hit a key 3-pointer with 1:39 left as the Spurs moved to 2-0. Kawhi Leonard added 15 points and 11 rebounds.Pau Gasol scored 20 points and had 10 rebounds for the Lakers but was the only starter in double figures. Nash started at guard after sitting out Wednesday’s loss at Golden State but scored only five points on 1-for-8 shooting.Jodie Meeks had 14 points and Wesley Johnson 12 for the Lakers (1-2). Xavier Henry played 22 minutes despite taking a hard foul while being fouled. He had a gash on his forehead that required nine stitches.Bryant reflected on the duels with Duncan before the game.“Tim and I obviously have a history and we have a long history of playing against each other and playing for our respective organizations,” Bryant said. “I’m sure it was weird for him that we faced each other in the playoffs without me being out there. It’ll be weird for me to play against the Spurs and not see him out there.”Bryant, of course, has established himself as the ultimate steely competitor, and even if Duncan’s stoic demeanor might not betray it, he might be on the same level as Bryant in that regard.“He’s just as competitive,” Bryant said. “There’s just different ways of showing it and demonstrating it. He seems to be, at least when the cameras are around, pretty quiet in his demeanor. But I know what a competitor he is. I’ve seen it. He has an edge to him.”The Bryant-Duncan duel is a rare one, that of two players who have spent their entire career with the same franchise. Bryant has helped the Lakers capture five championships and Duncan has been on four title-winning teams.“They’re special people,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “It comes from within and their competitiveness and mental toughness and they’re willing to be consistent leaders and competitors night after night.“A lot of people have good nights, but people like those guys understand it’s their responsibility to do it night after night.”Bryant has not been able to imprint his will on this season’s team, but the Spurs — to the dismay of the rest of the league — continue to churn out wins with their defense and execution.That wasn’t lost on D’Antoni.“They’re good anyway,” he said. “They play. Obviously, Boris Diaw will come in and he’s a great player. You know what they do, it’s that they do it really well and it’s tough to stop.”In his own way, Popovich said the same thing.“Same boring stuff,” he said. “I don’t even have to be here. If they go out there, they either win or they lose. I’m being serious. Nothing changes.” Playing without their future Hall of Famer, the Spurs relied on the usual suspects, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, to score a 91-85 victory at Staples Center. “We let this one get away from us,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I thought this was one we could get, especially without Duncan. This was set up for us, we didn’t do it.”D’Antoni still is searching for the right rotation. The Lakers bench outscored their starters, 45-40, and starting guards Steve Nash and Steve Blake combined to make only 3 of 20 shots.“Still searching for the right combinations in there and we’ve got to get that settled — yesterday,” D’Antoni said. “I’ve got to get it done in the sense we can’t get too far behind. We’ve got to get a set group and go with it. We’ll get there as quick as we can.”Friday, remarkably, was the first time the teams had met without one or the other’s top star being on the floor since Nov. 22, 1996. Duncan was still at Wake Forest, and Bryant was in his rookie season trying to convince Coach Del Harris he deserved playing time.center_img With the history between the Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, Friday night’s renewal of the rivalry was hardly a backdrop for anything special.What seemed to have a larger impact was for two of the main combatants who couldn’t participate.Kobe Bryant, of course, is still healing from his Achilles’ tendon surgery. Tim Duncan was ruled out out of the game with a chest contusion after being hurt in the Spurs’ opener against Memphis on Wednesday.The Spurs, of course, swept the Lakers out of the playoffs last season just after Bryant was injured.last_img

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