Lakers Slaughter Spurs: 5 Things L.A. Proved in San Antonio on Sunday
The Lakers snagged their seventh-straight win since the All-Star break as they smacked the Spurs on San Antonio's home court.
All season long L.A. has been criticized and condemned by the media because of a few lapses, including a loss to the lowly LeBron-less Cavs.
After being NBA champs for two consecutive seasons, the Lakers have set the bar high, so their every failure is dramatized.
While they probably won't secure a No. 1 seed this season, the Lakers sure came out ready to play for the second half of the year, and they will be the team to beat once the playoffs begin.
Here are five things that the Lakers showcased in their big win.
Gasol Can Knock It Down from Downtown
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Early in the second quarter as the Lakers were looking to extend their large lead, Gasol spotted up behind the arc and let it fly.
Yes, you read that right. Gasol put up his first three of the season and drained it as everything continued to go L.A.'s way. Those points were only three of his 21 on the afternoon.
It was the 19th trey of his 11-year career and his career percentage from deep is somewhere around .220.
Barnes and Bynum Are Back
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Although he only recorded five points and six boards, Barnes proved that he is a savvy substitute for Artest in his return. He can shut down an offensive superstar just like Ron, who was also active on the defensive end.
Artest had two steals, a blocked three-point attempt and he hustled for every lose ball, even managing to crash into a floor-level spectator, spilling his coffee all over him.
"Are you OK? Sorry you had a white shirt on," was Artest's response to the man.
Barnes, Artest and Bynum also harassed the guys in white on the hardwood as Tony Parker was San Antonio's only starter in double figures.
After his dominant defensive performance against the Bobcats, Bynum kept it up against the Spurs with 17 rebounds and three blocks.
Bryant Is as Good as Ever
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Everyone questioning Bryant's aging ability experienced a reinforcement of his offensive skill on Sunday, especially fellow veteran Manu Ginobili.
Bryant was guarded closely by Manu all day, but that didn't stop him from draining highly-contested jumpers and dropping 26 in San Antonio. He also threaded five assists, including a pretty touch pass to Odom on a fast break.
Responding to a courtside fan's taunts, Kobe made a quick move and rose above Ginobili's outstretched arm to sink a three. Bryant's performance silenced that particular Spurs fan, the entire AT&T Center and perhaps even the Black Mamba's most doubting critics.
They're Still the Best in the West
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
The Lakers led by nearly 30 at the half and never looked back as they defeated the Western Conference's top team.
The Spurs may have the better record, but L.A. showed up to prove that it is still the best in the West. The Lakers snapped San Antonio's 22-game win streak at home and dominated all afternoon, ending their three-game losing streak against the Spurs.
The Lakers had too much size and talent for the Spurs to have an off game. They held four out of five of the Spurs' starters to single figures and dominated the glass.
Los Angeles should have no problem beating this team in a seven-game series, should the matchup occur.
Fisher Is Fine and Shannon Can Soar
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
After leaving last game with a sprained left elbow, Derek Fisher was back on the court against the Spurs. He didn't seem to be hindered by the injury as he nailed two out of three from behind the arc and played a solid 27 minutes.
Shannon Brown had 12 points, including a spectacular slam on an assist from Kobe Bryant. He flew from just inside the foul line and palmed the ball well above the rim before throwing it down.
Blake Griffin may be the dunk master nowadays, but Shannon Brown can sure wow the crowd with his leaping ability as well.
After some early season doubts, it's pretty clear that the Lakers are back on track to three-peat.