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Lakers' 92-83 victory over San Antonio Spurs provides needed momentum for rest of trip

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Immediately after converting a putback, Lakers forward Ron Artest blew kisses to Lakers fans in the crowd at AT&T Center. Immediately after hitting a late-game corner three pointer, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant exchanged high-fives with Lakers fans sitting courtside. And immediately after the buzzer sounded, players gathered along the bench all with smiles on their faces.

The Lakers' 92-83 victory Wednesday over the San Antonio Spurs marked the team's seventh consecutive win, but this one was much different. While some of the Lakers remained split on if their current play served as a cause for concern, the team unanimously agreed their previous six wins meant very little.

Five of the wins came against sub. 500 opponents and featured inconsistent play. The latest victory came against the Spurs (42-28), which may not be the dominant team in the West they once were but San Antonio is still contending for a bottom seed in the NBA playoffs.

So how important is this win? Lakers Coach Phil Jackson had viewed the teams' first game of its five-game trip as the most important, not just because of the one-game-at-a-time mantra but also because he noticed the team's 114-111 loss to Miami March 4 established a trickling effect that spurred the Lakers to lose three consecutive road games. The Lakers still have four games left on their trip, the next stop Friday at Oklahoma City (43-27), but they provided plenty of reasons their performance against San Antonio could have a positive influence on the rest of the trip. And the factors extend beyond the fact that the Lakers (53-18) hold a six-game lead over Dallas (47-24) and a six-and-a-half-game leads over Denver (47-25) and Utah (47-25) for the top spot in the Western Conference standings with 11 games remaining.

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who surpassed Alex English Wednesday for 12th place on the NBA's all-time leading scoring list, scored a team-high 24 points on an efficient 11 of 16 shooting, including 10 in the fourth quarter. While he was mostly limited all night fighting through double teams, he made the Spurs pay by embracing the facilitating role and ending the night with six assists.

For all the justifiable criticism, Artest has received for not fully understanding the triangle offense, he showed the Lakers once again why they signed him in the offseason. After the Lakers trailed 48-41 at halftime, Artest's seven points, three rebounds and two steals that quarter allowed the Lakers to end the quarter with a third-quarter lead. He grabbed five steals, marking the fifth time he forced at least five turnovers in a game. And his 16 points on five of 11 shooting shows he can be a vital part of the offense so long as those open shots from the perimeter keeping falling in.

Lakers forward Lamar Odom also proved instrumental in that third quarter charge, scoring the team's last five points of that quarter. His 19 points and 13 rebounds marked his 21st double double, but his typical night of dependence on the glass, shots from the perimeter and drives to the lane came with unusual circumstances. This is the 16th game Odom has played with an injured left shoulder -- second since the injury became public -- and he showed signs that he's not going to let the injury inhibit his effort and performance. He drove to the lane right handed, a skill he joked and actually hoped will develop during his injury. Odom also created contact inside, a habit some injured players may feel reluctant to follow in fear it would further hurt themselves.

Lakers forward Pau Gasol didn't have his best performance, scoring 11 points on only four of 11 shooting. But on a night he didn't have his presence inside, he made sure future Hall-of-Famer Tim Duncan didn't either. Gasol held Duncan to only six points on 2 of 11 shooting, far below his season-average of 15.2 points per contest.

There was the bench in Jordan Farmar's 11 points on four of eight shooting and Shannon Brown's eight points on three of five shooting. Brown's two consecutive three-pointers gave the Lakers a 66-63 lead with 1:30 remaining in the third quarter.  And Farmar's three pointer with 9:07 left in the fourth quarter gave the Lakers a 75-73 edge. The performances were good enough for Jackson to play Derek Fisher for only 22 minutes, something he told reporters he wanted to do to conserve his energy. The performances also proved good enough for a unit whose effectiveness has been closely scrutinized, recently because of its one-point first-half performance last week against Sacramento and for nearly blowing a double-digit fourth quarter lead Sunday against Washington. 

And last, but not last, the Lakers defense. It didn't appear the prettiest at first, what with George Hill's 20 first-half points. But the defense clamped down in the second half, holding Hill to only one point in the second half and forcing Manu Ginobili (24 points) to be the Spurs' only offensive option.

The Lakers' effort on all these fronts featured lots of energy, something the team acquired after playing only two games in seven nights and taking the day off on Monday. From this point forward, the Lakers can feed off the energy it established against San Antonio by building off that momentum for the rest of the trip. 

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, bottom, and San Antonio center Matt Bonner scramble for a loose ball during the first quarter of Wednesday's game. Credit: Eric Gay/Associated Press.

 
Comments () | Archives (19)

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pretty solid summation mark. one thing i'd like to add, IS how well the lakers played despite the fact san antonio got every call in the game. way too many numerous over-the-back fouls NOT called by the zebras on san antonio. i like how L.A. played through the crappy officiating and WON THIS GAME! 1 down, 4 to go. let's go 5 - 0~

Great news for someone who missed the game. I'm looking forward to the increase in defensive intensity.

I was kinda worried about facing the Spurs in the 1st round bec. of Tony Parker and Pop. I was hoping we'd get OKC bec. they'll be playoff newbies.
But now, the Spurs are really looking too old because Duncan has always been their rock since he came into the league and he's looking really past it.
I just want a first rounder that we can zip through 4-0, so we'll be rested for round 2. OKC might actually be more physically tiring to play in the 1st round due to their young legs.


So a funny situation happened tonight, the cavs and lakers are staying at the same hotel lmao. Kobe & lebron are at the same hotel tonight...as if that's not enough...shaq's there too along with phil jackson! I think this is ironic, especially because both these teams are chasing one another.


You summed it up really nicely MM.

It was a truly comforting game to watch, because you could see mainly two things: that we wanted comin out from there with a good result; and that despite the usual slow coming into the game with all of our players ticking clocks at the same time, we managed to not waste TOO much time and energies (compared to other performamces we had, also in teh recent past) for reaching a good point of interactive constructionism of our flow.

I particularly loved the way Kobe was able to guide us all, not merely as player (he did just so well tonight as game chief) but also as a "antics-slower".

I also loved all that he said during the post game interview.
Spot on in full.

I am equally very glad of the way both Pau and Ron contributed tonight, not to mention the good, better, great effort Lamar put in: at times you couldn't guess his injury at all, while it was there and it's painful and it takes off a lot from his skilled game.
He overcome that pretty, pretty well.

Spurs did their thing.
They might e getting old but they are a very skilled and experienced team and yes, that was comforting to see.

To beat them this way on their homepitch just sounds good and put things in a nice perspective.

We still have so much to do to reach our not even best, let's say better pace so far.

But really: when we start to play... walls come down so easily it's fascinating.

Have all a good night ;)
Later ;)

Yah sure 5-0 on this road trip.Go Lakers!Go KOBE the G.O.A.T.

GOOOOD MORNING LAKER NATION!!
*
They say that cat Kobe is a baad mother…Shut your mouth, But I’m just talking about the Black Mamba, Then we can dig it!!!! Yes, Yes, Kudos’ Mamba, Kudos Ron-Ron, Kudos LO, Kudos Pau!
*
MY FRIENDS I COME TO YOU TODAY AND ADMIT TO THE WORLD THAT MAMBA24 IS A LAKERHOLIC AND HE AINT NEVER GOING TO REHAB FOR HIS ADDICTION!!!
*
EVERYBODY HAPPY? OK THEN, FIRST THINGS FIRST…
WHO ARE WE!
We’re the World Champion LA Lakers , we’ve won 15 Rings
10 of the 50 Greatest players played under our wings
We’ve had 3 Lakers Dynasties and now are starting on 4
That’s 2 better than any NBA team ever had before
The best Winning Percentage in History, can’t ask for more
You want Hall of Fame Coaches, Check it, we’ve had four
We got the Finals MVP, By the name of Name Kobe Bryant
He scored more points than an entire team without even trying
He scored 81 points in a game & could have scored more
But Rings not number of points is what he plays for.
We got The Logo Jerry West & First Great center George Mikan
The Legendary Elgin Baylor & Magic Johnson the Icon.
We’ve had all great centers like Shaq, Wilt & of course Kareem
Super guards Worthy, Goodrich & Silk played on the Laker team
Karl Malone & Gary Payton, A glove & Mailman we just leased
A 10 time Title Winning Coach who mastered Zen in the East
Chick Hearn the Legend, Broadcasted our Lakers Games
Now he’s Broadcasting from Heaven & is in the Hall of Fame
We got Sports Winningest & Best Owner, Kudos Dr. Jerry Buss
We play for Rings & Rings only , which is why teams fear us.
That’s just a summary of our Resume, we don’t talk we Do.
We’re The Freaking Champion Lakers, Who the Hell are You
yeahhhhhhhhhhh!!! OUT FREAKIN STANDIIIIIIING!!
NEXT....
*
*
CONGRATULATION KOBE 12TH PLACE ALLTIME - BANDWAGON
*
(01)JUSTANOTHERMAMBA - OWNER
(02) SEGEBOY - THE SHERIFF
(03) KB BLITZ - DRIVER
(04) JEANETTE - RIDING SHOTGUN
(05) ZAIRA - SECURITY
(06) MAMBA24 - A hopeless Lakerholic
(07)

"To beat them this way on their homepitch just sounds good and put things in a nice perspective."

@Zaira

What a great way to put it. I do think this win puts things in the correct perspective. Also, I would like to add, Trevor Ariza never played a game like the one RonRon played last night.

RonRon nearly closed down the San Antonio side of the floor all by himself for a stretch. It was amazing to watch. Then, he added seven points of his own in that period.

Last night, without RonRon, we don't win.

MM,

I have a slight bone to pick with your analysis. RonRon did not force only five turnovers last night. He forced nearly every turnover San Antonio had. He got five steals. Forcing a turnover doesn't always result in your getting a steal.

--FEARless

Fearless - I never said he "forced five turnovers." I said he had five steals, which is correct. You're right that his activity on defense helped lead to other turnovers, but that's really splitting hairs isn't it?

MM

Agreed. That's the best Artest has played in a Laker uniform so far. The trade is making more and more sense now.

Is that a real live Zaira sighting??!! A good win and Zaira too: Now it feels like things are coming back together.

"Spurs did their thing.
They might e getting old but they are a very skilled and experienced team and yes, that was comforting to see.

To beat them this way on their homepitch just sounds good and put things in a nice perspective."

I gotta say, this sums up how I'm feeling this morning. My second favorite team has always been the Spurs (Don't know why, but it could be the fact that they had two understated superstars in Duncan and Robinson) and they always have been a quality opponent for the Lakers. So, it's always sweet when the Lakers beat them on their own floor.

JR

MM,

I stand corrected. Your statement went thus:

"He grabbed five steals, marking the fifth time he forced at least five turnovers in a game."

I must have overlooked the phrase "at least". But, I thought you knew, splitting hairs is what we bloggers do.

:)

But, since I said I had only a "slight" bone to pick, then maybe I wasn't splitting the whole hair?

--FEARless

Can you feel it Lakernation? This team is a joy to watch when they play like the way they played last night, it was not perfect but it was beautiful.

Ron Artest blowing kisses and Kobe high fiving fans, love it! Congrats to KOBE, it blows my mind on how great he has become. Maturity has done a great deal on that. Amazing how he can turn it on. When PJ said activate the ball, he started shooting. He scores when he wants, where he wants, how he wants, as a defender you could only wish he miss.

that Kobe guy had 11-16 that is like 68.75%

ironically, he had the lowest +/- of the game at -3. :-)

also he made all the difficult shots (except the last 3 when he was nonchalant)

ironically, he misses all the pedestrian (at his level) shots.

the team in the 4th looked cocky. started in the 3rd when Ron started to blow kisses to the LA fans.

ps. nonchalant and pedestrian r bought to U by reggie miller. during the Miami game the Mics were not off and one can overhear how he was asking marv albert when and how to use the 2 words because he likes them)

OH YAH BABY!!!

THAT, my friends, was the closest we've seen to the Lakers' playoff calibre defense.

The good news??? We ain't seen nothin yet. HAHAHAHAHA!!!


These guys are going to play so much better through the rest of the season (and beyond) I shudder to think of how badly the rest of the league is shuddering!!!!!!!!

Sherrif - So good to have you on the live chat again. LOL about the "debate" we had! I guess we're both agreeing on Trevor who?? Seriously, though, Thriller is awesome on D. I mean, beyond what I even expected to see. And all this while he's still got that sore hand, so you know his O is going to pick up. Wow. I know it's only 1 game... yadda yadda yadda.... but hey - show it to me once and I'll expect it every time!


Mamba24 - also great to have you last night! It sure is a lot more lively when most of the fam gets together lol! And thanks for getting the "Congrat's Kobe" bandwagon up & rolling! We are surely blessed (and spoiled) to have such an unbelievable talent to watch on a regular basis. The Black Mamba is something else. How many times last night did we go "OMG I CAN'T BELIEVE HE JUST DID THAT"????? LOL!!! You'd think we'd be used to it by now!

Jon K - looks like the lucky barstool isn't actually the lucky barstool anymore. More like the "lucky bouncer" is what's REALLY going on here LOL! It's YOU man! It's AAALLL YOU!!! Seriously though - if my knee didn't hurt so bad I too would have slept like a baby after this win. I'm giddy today! No one will be able to wipe this smile off my face! BRING IT ON!!!


GUYS - great time on the chat! Thanks everyone for making this corner of the blogosphere home....

GO LAKERS!!!

Nothing but another title will suffice.

Congratulations, Kobe! We all know that when you finally do retire, you are going to be Top Three All-Time in scoring!

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

justanothermambafan,

"Jon K - looks like the lucky barstool isn't actually the lucky barstool anymore."

I don't know. Presently when it's powers have been inacted, the lucky barstool is 87-13 in terms of Lakers victories. It may need to be recharged as it was once 36-2, but 87-13 ain't bad.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

I sure hope we keep playing like we did last night.

Good things happen when Thriller takes his muzzle off.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

ahaah ;)
Yep, that is me ;)
I need to slowly get back in writing mode as playoff approach.
Thought coming back starting from this 5 road trip would have been best.
I will try to be nice.
I promise ;)
(and so, trying to not really mind Kobe bashers, Pau bashers... anyone basher... just hangin in pretty comfortably. Excercising Zen Sides. Or something ;))

Good to have resurfaced from lurkerLand.
Still I kept reading you all daily.

So it's not really like I've been that away, did I? ;)


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