Down three post players and starting to look like a lottery team, the Los Angeles Lakers managed to show some heart. Unfortunately for them, heart didn't prevail in this one.
The San Antonio Spurs pulled out a 108-105 victory on Wednesday night, thanks in large part to a late Manu Ginobili three-pointer that ended up being the difference-maker for the home team. Ginobili was one of six Spurs in double figures.
Despite being down by 10 at the start of the fourth quarter, LA managed to make it a game. Without Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill things were paltry on the bench, but Metta World Peace and Earl Clark stepped up big in both protecting the paint and leading a late charge to give the Lakers a chance.
Peace had 23 points, eight rebounds and seven steals, while Clark chipped in 22 points and 13 rebounds on 9-of-12 shooting off the bench. Kobe Bryant led the way with 27 points for Los Angeles.
San Antonio's Tony Parker led the way with 24 points, but also contributed six turnovers on a night the Spurs uncharacteristically committed 18—helping to keep Los Angeles in the ballgame.
Player of the Game: G Manu Ginobili, San Antonio
There were plenty of players to choose from in this contest, but Manu gets the nod after his late three helped put the Lakers away. He finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists in 28 minutes and was big off the bench.
Boy, we've gotten used to saying that over the years. He isn't quite the sixth man of the year anymore, but Ginobili is still deadly when left open.
Up Next for the Lakers
No rest for the weary. The Lakers will head back to Los Angeles to prepare for a marquee matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday night at Staples Center. LA played OKC close in December, when it suffered a 114-108 loss. They'll try to make up for that game on Friday, but it's going to be tough with Howard, Gasol and Jordan Hill still banged up.
Up Next for the Spurs
San Antonio will travel to Memphis on Friday, where the Grizzlies await with Western Conference supremacy seemingly on the line. The Grizzlies knocked the Spurs out of the playoffs in 2011 in a surprise upset, but that was a long time ago. It will be interesting to see where each team is at come Friday night, in what could be yet another playoff preview.