Spurs top Lakers for 9th straight win
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The San Antonio Spurs lamented the decline of the Los Angeles Lakers before playing their longtime rival.
Then, they went out and dominated them.
Danny Green had 15 points and the Spurs won their ninth straight, defeating the Lakers 119-85 on Friday night for their largest victory over Los Angeles.
"They just took it to us," Los Angeles coach Mike D’Antoni said. "To be able to guard them, you have to make multiple efforts. It might be eight times you have to stop something in the half court. They are going to keep moving the ball until they find something good. We just did not have the intensity or wherewithal to hang in there.
"They carved us up pretty good."
It certainly was unlike the classic down-to-the-wire showdowns the teams have had during the last several years.
San Antonio never trailed after the opening four minutes, allowing coach Gregg Popovich to limit his starters and Manu Ginobili to an average of 17 minutes. The Spurs had five reserves score in double-figures, led by Matt Bonner’s 13 points and 10 rebounds. Marco Belinelli and Aron Baynes scored 12 points each, Cory Joseph added 11 points and Jeff Ayres had 10 points.
Ginobili and Tony Parker each had seven points in 14 minutes and Tim Duncan had nine points in 15 minutes.
"It’s great," Parker said. "We want to keep our legs fresh — big picture, the playoffs. At this time of the season, if we can have games like that, it’s great."
San Antonio (49-16) maintained the league’s best record ahead of Indiana and Oklahoma City, who are both 48-17.
"They are playing really, really, really well," D’Antoni said. "That is probably the best we have seen all year."
Pau Gasol had 18 points and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes and Jodie Meeks had 15 points for Los Angeles (22-44), which has lost five of six.
The Lakers suffered their most lopsided defeat to the Spurs since a 135-103 loss on Feb. 22, 1977. And it came eight days after their worst loss of this season, 142-94 to the Clippers.
"This season has been rough in many, many ways and many aspects, and disappointing," Gasol said. "I agree it’s one of the worst seasons as far as collective results and record. Especially when you’re a franchise like the Lakers, you don’t expect to have a season like this."
Baynes’ running, one-handed dunk on Wesley Johnson gave San Antonio its largest lead at 86-51 lead with 3 minutes remaining in the third.
"Great hands in the lanes, good defense, good rotations," Duncan said. "We’ve beat some pretty good teams here in the last couple of games and we came in here, we had to respect them. We did just that from the go and got a lead and stuck with it."
Green scored all of his points on 3s, going 5 for 8 from beyond the arc. He hit back-to-back 3s, giving San Antonio a 70-38 lead 3 minutes into the third.
Los Angeles was shooting 17 percent from the field 2 minutes into the second quarter, going 4 for 24, and finished the game at 34 percent.
Struggling to hit jumpers, the Lakers’ drives into the paint proved just as formidable.
Green and Kawhi Leonard each had two blocks in the first 4 minutes and Tim Duncan picked up two blocks over the following 4 minutes.
While injuries to key players like Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash have limited the Lakers, Gasol said the team’s struggles go beyond its health.
"We will try to watch some tape of how San Antonio plays and try to emulate them a little bit," Gasol said. "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."
After a sluggish start for both teams, San Antonio went on a 20-2 run beginning midway through the opening quarter to take a 29-12 lead with 1:35 remaining.
Normally one of the league’s weaker rebounding teams, San Antonio set season highs in total rebounds (64) and offensive rebounds (18). The Spurs entered the game 17th in the league in rebounding at 42.6 and were tied for 26th in offensive rebounding at 9.0.
NOTES: Gasol said he is happy for former Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who will be announced as the New York Knicks team president Tuesday. "It will be interesting to see how involved and what kind of decisions he’s going to make and what kind of relationship he’s going to have with the coaching staff and players," he said. "Hopefully, I’ll talk to him and he can explain it to me a little bit." When told the Knicks were over the salary cap, Gasol, an impending free agent, said: "That’s a shame." … Los Angeles was without Bryant (fractured left knee), Nash (nerve root irritation), Nick Young (sore left knee) and Jordan Hill (sore right knee). … Parker was dumbfounded when official James Williams called a blocking foul on him, shrugging his shoulder and repeating, "What did I do?" Williams, fellow official Ken Mauer and Duncan all chuckled at Parker’s protest considering the Spurs were leading 77-47 at the time. … Despite having a roster minus most of their biggest stars, the Lakers still received thunderous boos during introductions.