Lakers Fall to Spurs After Neck-and-Neck Game

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Author: Mirin Fader

The Los Angeles Lakers dropped an 89-88 decision to the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center on Thursday, Feb. 3 on a buzzer beater tip-in by Spurs center Antonio McDyess.

In a game that saw nine lead changes and seven ties, the final 30 seconds of play decided the outcome. A missed three by Spurs guard Manu Ginobili with 11.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter was rebounded by McDyess.

Spurs point guard Tony Parker then barely missed a floater jump-shot with 4.6 seconds left in the game, and finally another offensive rebound for the Spurs led to a missed fade-away jump-shot by Spurs forward Tim Duncan with 2.1 seconds left in the game.

The Lakers failed to box out yet again, allowing McDyess his third offensive rebound in the possession to tip-in Duncan’s miss at the buzzer.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, head coach Phil Jackson commented on the disappointing outcome.

“Too many opportunities at the end of the game,” Jackson said. “Four attempts cost us. It was a good game. Defensively we played well.”

This was a pivotal game for the Lakers, who currently occupy third place in the Western Conference and first place in the Pacific division with a record of 35-16, while San Antonio is in first place in the Western Conference, the Southwest division and in the League, with a record of 42-8.

The Spurs defeated the Lakers in their first meeting earlier this season 97-82 in San Antonio on Dec. 28.

In Thursday’s game, the Spurs relied on the quickness of Tony Parker, who pushed the ball in transition to exploit the Lakers on the offensive end. Parker led all scorers with 21 points.

 His penetration to the basket facilitated wide open three-point shots for the Spurs when the Lakers’ defense collapsed.

 The Lakers failed to close out on three-point shooters, despite the fact that San Antonio is third in the league in three point percentage, shooting nearly 39 percent both at home and away games.

Spurs forward Richard Jefferson contributed 18 points, including four threes. Manu Ginobili added 14 points and 8 assists.

The Spurs shot 41 percent from the field and 38 percent from the three-point line, while the Lakers shot just 14 percent from the three-point line.

However, the Lakers shot 43 percent from the field, pounding the ball into their front court duo Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Gasol led the Lakers with 19 points and 7 rebounds, while Bynum contributed a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, along with 6 assists.

Kobe Bryant, despite a poor shooting night (5-18), still managed a double-double with 16 points and a game high 10 assists, to go along with 9 rebounds. Lamar Odom came off the bench to contribute 16 points.

Tim Duncan, George Hill and Antonio McDyess all scored 8 points apiece, with Duncan also grabbing 8 rebounds.

The score was tied at 42 at half-time.

Both teams took care of the ball well, with just 10 turnovers, when both teams normally average 13 turnovers a game.

Though San Antonio took advantage of the Lakers on the offensive boards, the Lakers led the rebounding total for the game 44-38.

The game remained close throughout. The Spurs led 66-63 at the end of the third quarter until they finally defeated the Lakers in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter.

“You lose a game in the final seconds, it hurts a little bit more,” Lamar Odom told the Los Angeles Times.

The Lakers will face the Spurs again March 6 in San Antonio.

Fans  will be biting their nails as they hope the Lakers redeem themselves against their biggest league rivals.

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