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Lakers beat Spurs in first game without Kobe
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On April 15, 2013 @ 1:00 am In Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES – Somewhere, Kobe Bryant was smiling.
In the first game without their star whose season was ended with an Achilles tendon tear on Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers kept their playoff push alive with a 91-88 win over the San Antonio Spurs.
The Lakers, whose finale is a home game against Houston on Wednesday, are now 1 ½ games ahead of the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Jazz, who hold the tiebreaker between the teams, play at Minnesota on Monday and at Memphis on Wednesday.
If the Jazz lose against the Timberwolves, the Lakers would be in the playoffs. If the Jazz beat the Timberwolves, then it would take either a Lakers win against the Rockets or a Jazz loss against the Grizzlies to put them in the playoffs. The Lakers played for the seventh consecutive game without point guard Steve Nash (hip and hamstring soreness), but may have him back on Wednesday.
The Lakers’ win wasn’t pretty, as they shot just 36.5% from the field and the Spurs were an equally-ugly 37.8%. Lakers forward Pau Gasol, who has been playing at a very high level of late, was a woeful 3 of 17 from the field while guard Darius Morris – who played only because of Bryant’s absence – was just one of six.
But Lakers center Dwight Howard, who suddenly found himself even more front and center than before because of the huge void left by Bryant that so many expect him to fill, finished with 26 points and 17 rebounds. Point guard Steve Blake, who one Lakers fan deemed the Blake Mamba on Twitter during the action, had 23 points on eight of 16 shooting – 18 of them coming in the first half.
The Spurs, who now trail Oklahoma City by a game for the top spot in the Western Conference, pushed the Lakers until the end, in large part, because Tim Duncan keeps forgetting that 36-year-ol d big men simply don’t play this way. He finished with 23 points (11 of 22 shooting) and 10 rebounds, with 11 … [For more on Lakers beat Spurs in first game after Kobe Bryant's injury, click here.]
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