for this game

Bryant, Lakers cruise past shorthanded Spurs

Dec 14, 2007 - 7:58 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson stated before the game that he was hoping his team could take advantage of playing against the shorthanded San Antonio Spurs. They were able to do just that on Thursday night.

With Tim Duncan and Tony Parker watching in street clothes from the sidelines, Kobe Bryant had 30 points and four steals and Lamar Odom added 15 and eight rebounds as the Lakers posted a 102-97 victory over the Spurs at Staples Center.

Duncan, who has averaged 17.6 points and a team-high 8.9 rebounds, missed his fourth straight contest with a right ankle injury suffered during a December 2 win over Portland.

Parker, who has averaged 20.1 points and 6.8 assists, was out of action for the first time this season with a sprained left ankle.

"It's a game you think that you just have to find a way to win a game like this," Jackson said. "It can get ugly, it can get a bit scrappy. We just had to find the combination guys that could go out there and play ball."

The Spurs missed the presence of their two leading men.

"I thought their effort was great, we had to do some different things, and I thought they competed well," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "We hung in for a good long time, and I was disappointed in the fourth quarter when they broke it up, and it started with two defensive errors."

Serving as their replacements, veteran guard Jacque Vaughn and forward Fabricio Oberto combined for just 16 points on 4-of-11 shooting.

"(Parker and Duncan) are the reason they are the champions, of course you know what (they are) going to do," Odom said. "But those are the guys that played tonight that make them go consistently. When those other guys (the stars) are having a tough night, those are the guys that step up."

With the game tied early in the fourth, the Lakers used a 12-4 run on the strength of Jordan Farmar's 3-pointer to go ahead 90-82 with 6:04 remaining.

"Farmar stepped back and hit a 3-pointer and that kind of was the difference in the game for us," Spurs swingman Brent Barry said. "We couldn't quite get back into the game after that."

Los Angeles would put it away a few minutes later. Bryant stole the ball and found a wide-open Ronny Turiaf for a dunk and an 11-point lead.

"You've got to make shots. And we didn't do that in the first half, but we made enough to be in the ballgame," Popovich said. "But as I said, those two defensive errors back-to-back changed the game in the fourth quarter. We couldn't recover, obviously."

Despite an obvious advantage in this one, Jackson was cautious prior to the game, stemming from a setback just a few weeks earlier to the undermanned Utah Jazz. The Lakers dropped a 120-96 decision on November 30 to the Jazz, who played without stars Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur in that contest.

Los Angeles wasn't about to suffer the same letdown this time around against a depleted Spurs' squad.

The Lakers forced the Spurs into 11 first-half turnovers en route to a 51-42 advantage at the half.

Andrew Bynum, who grabbed 11 rebounds, was ejected with 4:32 left in the third after receiving two technical fouls - responding to an offensive foul whistled against him.

The Spurs would take full advantage of Bynum's exit, going on an 8-2 run, highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers by Bruce Bowen, en route to San Antonio's 74-72 lead heading into the fourth.

Bowen had 22 points on five shots from the arc, Barry scored 17 points and Ginobili had 14 for the Spurs.

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