It wasn’t long ago when wire-to-wire showdowns were common between the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers. They haven’t been happening with Kobe Bryant absent.
Five days after their most lopsided victory over the Lakers, the Spurs look to extend the league’s longest current winning streak to 11 while continuing to dominate the rivalry Wednesday night at Staples Center.
San Antonio (50-16) only needed Tony Parker and Tim Duncan on the court for a combined 29 minutes in a 119-85 rout of Los Angeles on Friday. Danny Green led six players in double figures with 15 points and hit five 3-pointers as the Spurs made 13 of 27 from beyond the arc.
The Lakers (22-44) were 4 for 21 as part of their 34.1 percent shooting overall. The Spurs have limited them to 85.2 points per game while winning the past six matchups by an average of 19.1, including last season’s first-round playoff sweep.
Bryant has missed every game of that losing streak, which equals the Lakers’ longest in the 38-year history of this rivalry when counting the postseason. Injuries have caused him to miss all but three of the last 11 meetings as Los Angeles has gone 1-10.
With Bryant (fractured knee), Steve Nash (nerve root irritation), Nick Young (sore knee) and Jordan Hill (sore knee) all out, Los Angeles has dropped five of six and is only a game better than conference-worst Utah.
"We will try to watch some tape of how San Antonio plays and try to emulate them a little bit," said Pau Gasol, who had 18 points and 11 rebounds Friday. "Try to get to the paint and make that right pass, keep the ball moving, find the open guy, not force stuff and not try to win it on your own, you know, basics."
While the Lakers have been off since that last meeting, the Spurs played Sunday and reached 50 wins for an NBA-record 15th straight season with a 122-104 victory over the Jazz. They own the league’s longest current win streak after the Los Angeles Clippers’ 11-game run ended in Denver on Monday.
"We’re thinking about other things and we’ve just had a great group of guys for a long time," coach Gregg Popovich said. "That’s the reason we’ve been able to win. Records and that sort of thing, streaks aren’t really on anybody’s mind."
Manu Ginobili, Parker and Duncan combined for 55 points on 22-of-32 shooting as San Antonio shot a season-high 62.8 percent Sunday. The Spurs have scored a league-best 114.3 per game this month, 9.2 above their season average.
"We’re getting our rhythm," Parker said. "Manu looks good, he looks healthy. Timmy, his outside shot is coming around. We’re all doing little stuff. Now we all just to have to stay healthy."
The Spurs, a half-game ahead of Indiana for the NBA’s best record, now have a chance to match their longest win streak of the season that occurred Nov. 5-25.
They could continue their recent scoring surge against a Los Angeles team that has given up a league-high 124.9 points per game this month.
Parker has averaged 22.3 points on 62.5 percent shooting in the last three meetings at Los Angeles, including blowout victories in Games 3 and 4 of last year’s playoff series. He had 24 points and Ginobili provided 20 as San Antonio won 91-85 at Staples Center on Nov. 1 despite Duncan’s absence due to a bruised chest.