Injuries just one reason for Lakers' 105-85 loss to San Antonio Spurs
In the immediate aftermath of the Lakers' 105-85 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, most of the focus was on how Kobe Bryant's back spasms caused him to miss the entire fourth quarter. In the grand scheme of things, fans and reporters alike (including myself) know Bryant's injury has more big-picture implications than it being just a factor in the Lakers' loss to the Spurs.
Even if Bryant were to suit up for tonight's game against the Dallas Mavericks, his injury nonetheless brings more fragility to a unit already greatly affected by injuries. Pau Gasol missed his fifth consecutive game because of a left hamstring injury. Both Ron Artest (right index finger) and Sasha Vujacic (right hamstring) have injuries affecting them day to day that stemmed from Tuesday's contest. And Adam Morrison missed the game entirely because of flu-like symptoms.
All those missing and moving parts obviously gave the Lakers a short hand. But it doesn't completely account for the Lakers' weaknesses, marking the team's fourth consecutive road loss, its third defeat in the last four contests and a 13-8 record against winning teams (above .500). Most importantly, the Cleveland Cavaliers (30-10) are closing in on the Lakers (29-9) for the league's top spot.
The Lakers committed 14 turnovers, allowed the Spurs to shoot 57.3% and yielded at least 100 points for the ninth time in 12 games. Among its starters, Bryant was the only one to shoot more than 50%, and Andrew Bynum's 23 points was the rare bright spot. Two other starters -- guard Derek Fisher and forward Lamar Odom -- combined for only 13 points on three of 10 shooting.
One game after Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar provided needed bench support against the Bucks, they couldn't bring the same production against the Spurs. San Antonio's reserves outscored the Lakers 42-20.
And though the Lakers never led after the first quarter, they erased a 22-point third-quarter deficit to six with 5:38 left in the fourth quarter. But all that offensive execution without Mamba's presence was wasted as the Spurs outscored the Lakers 25-5 the rest of the way.
The Lakers are 10-6 without Gasol. And they could be even worse off if Bryant's back forces him to miss games or at least be limited in both production and minutes. In the loss against San Antonio, the Lakers once again missed a golden opportunity to show they can survive without their top players.
-- Mark Medina
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Photo: Kobe Bryant, taking aim between the Spurs' Keith Bogans and Tony Parker, scored all 16 of his points in the first half. Bryant injured his back late in the first quarter and left the game for good late in the third. Credit: Brendan Maloney / US Presswire