Green hits 3 over Bryant as Spurs top Lakers
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
Kobe Bryant is the reigning king of hero ball, the sport of NBA superstars in the waning minutes of close games. He takes (and sometimes makes) the big shots.
The San Antonio Spurs don’t play that. So they let Danny Green, who averages 11.6 points a game, take a three-pointer on their final possession against the Los Angeles Lakers, who were up one.
Green made it. Over Bryant’s outstretched hand.
Pau Gasol missed a three-pointer on the ensuing possession, and the Spurs won 84-82, handing the 3-5 Lakers their first loss in three games since firing coach Mike Brown. Newly hired Mike D’Antoni was not around for the game as he prepares to fly Wednesday to Los Angeles and begin coaching either Friday or Sunday.
The final play was a perfect example of what makes the 7-1 Spurs so good. Point guard Tony Parker dribbled up court, then handed off to power forward Tim Duncan before he reached the three-point line. Duncan found small forward Kawhi Leonard near the top of the key, and Green swiftly came around a screen in the paint to get open on the right wing. Bryant was trailing as he went up with his shot.
Bryant had a great game, individually. He had 28 points on 12-for-19 shooting, eight assists and four rebounds. The Lakers were plus 10 with him on the court, minus 12 without him.
But Gasol, Metta World Peace and first-time starter Darius Morris combined to shoot 7-for-29 from the field, and Dwight Howard had six turnovers and five fouls.
Los Angeles was playing without its top two point guards. Steve Nash still is out with a small break in his leg, and Steve Blake has an abdominal strain. It is tough to imagine D’Antoni installing his system with Morris and Chris Duhon at point guard.