Lakers show spirit against Spurs, but still lose fifth in a row, 108-105 - latimes.com
Lakers show spirit against Spurs, but still lose fifth in a row, 108-105 :drummer
They nearly rally from a 17-point deficit, but the result is another loss that leaves L.A. five games under .500.
By Mike Bresnahan
SAN ANTONIO — All these Lakers losses and a turbulent flight here from Houston had Coach Mike D'Antoni hating life.
"At least they put my [hotel] room on the third floor, so if I did jump I would just hurt my ankle a little bit," he said.
Then the Lakers played the Spurs.
It wasn't as bad as it could have been, but the result was a fifth consecutive loss, 108-105, Wednesday at AT&T Center.
In fact, the Lakers played pretty well, overcoming a 17-point deficit and almost forcing overtime until Kobe Bryant and seldom-used Earl Clark missed three-point attempts in the final seconds.
The Lakers fell 111/2 games behind the Spurs in the Western Conference standings. And that's just the start. They're 121/2 games behind the Clippers and 12 behind Oklahoma City.
Not that first place is even feasible in this punch line of a season.
The Lakers are now fighting for their playoff lives, three months separating them from missing the postseason for only the third time in the last 37 seasons.
Dwight Howard (shoulder), Pau Gasol (concussion) and Jordan Hill (hip) didn't play against San Antonio, leaving the Lakers without much of a chance going into it.
This one was more painful than their last meeting in November, when Danny Green's three-pointer produced an 84-82 Spurs victory at Staples Center. The season was young at the time, Steve Nash was injured and the Lakers weren't that concerned about the future.
It turned out to be the only loss in the high-flying Bernie Bickerstaff era.
Now the Lakers (15-20) have mountains of worries. "We've lost, what, five in a row? Pretty self-explanatory," Bryant said.
Their next game is at home Friday against Oklahoma City. They haven't lost six in a row since March 2007.
They were even lampooned nationally as a video clip from Tuesday's loss to Houston circulated on the Internet. During a timeout in that game, Nash grabbed a towel, wiped under his arms, and tossed it back toward Metta World Peace, who used it to wipe his face.
An attempt to improve team chemistry? Not exactly. "That's just bad luck," D'Antoni said.
Bryant has managed to keep his irritability to a minimum this season, though he let an angry "What are you doing?" slip in the final minute of the second quarter Wednesday because he was left guarding Tim Duncan after Clark grabbed a smaller player to defend.
Later, Bryant scored on a layup, thought he was fouled, yelled about it and gave back a point by being called for a technical foul. Kawhi Leonard made the free throw at the other end.
Then Bryant hit consecutive three-pointers, one from 32 feet, and went to the bench with an angry look on his face after the Spurs called a timeout.
He sat there for a couple of minutes, stewing, before Howard came up to him, talked to him and drew a smile out of him.
Bryant was pretty somber, though, after the game and didn't like a San Antonio reporter asking whether Leonard's defense was why he missed 14 of 24 shots.
"Yeah, it was Kawhi's defense," said Bryant, who had 27 points.
Metta World Peace had 23 points and Clark had 22 points and 13 rebounds in his best game by far since coming from Orlando along with Howard.
Clark's three-pointer pulled the Lakers to within 108-105 with 31.7 seconds to play. The Lakers then had the ball after a bad pass by Tony Parker, who had 24 points but six turnovers.
Bryant's three-point attempt came up short with 3.9 seconds left and Clark missed badly at the buzzer after getting a long rebound. "The team, you can see, [is] getting some traction," D'Antoni said. "But we are a long ways away to a smile."