LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant has always loved competition, and the San Antonio Spurs have always been among his fiercest.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points, Kawhi Leonard had 16 points and they each had 11 rebounds to lift the San Antonio Spurs over Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers 109-87 on Friday night.
Rookie D’Angelo Russell had a career-high 24 points and added six assists and six rebounds for Los Angeles. Bryant had 12 points on 5-for-12 shooting in 29 minutes.
San Antonio’s depth and experience proved too much for the Lakers, who lost their fifth straight and fell to 2-14 on the road.
As time expired, Bryant ran over to give San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich a long hug, and the longtime competitors spoke for a couple of minutes. Bryant tapped his chest and pointed to the crowd, acknowledging the cheers and chants of “Kobe” as he walked off the court.
Bryant announced Nov. 29 that he is retiring at the close of the season. He’s helped beat the Spurs in the postseason four times, including the 2001 and 2008 Western Conference Finals.
Despite his success in San Antonio, Bryant is extremely popular in the city and a large contingent of fans came to see what could be his penultimate appearance at the AT&T Center. There were huge ovations on every Lakers’ basket and even “air ball” chants when Leonard badly missed his first 3-point attempt.
The crowd cheered wildly when Bryant made his first four attempts, scoring nine points on 4-for-5 shooting in the first quarter.
The Spurs and their fans were silent for much of the first quarter until the second unit energized both, as they have all season.
Aldridge fed a cutting Manu Ginobili for a reverse layup, and Ginobili returned the favor on the following possession, lobbing the ball into Aldridge for a layup. The Spurs outscored the Lakers 14-2 to close the first quarter, capped by consecutive 3-pointers from Patty Mills.
The Lakers pulled within eight points early in the fourth quarter, but San Antonio’s second unit extended the lead to as many as 23 points and improved to 12-0 at home.
Lakers: Point guard Jordan Clarkson sat out after spraining his right ankle Wednesday at Minnesota. Lakers coach Byron Scott was hopeful Clarkson could play following morning treatment, but he was unable to pivot on the sore ankle. Scott does not expect Clarkson to play Saturday in Houston. … The Lakers will face the Spurs three more times in the regular season, including what could be Bryant’s final appearance in San Antonio on Feb. 6.
Spurs: Point guard Tony Parker sat. Ginobili and Tim Duncan both missed Nov. 27 for rest and Duncan also missed Dec. 7 for the same reason. San Antonio won both of those games. … The Spurs are 8-1 in back-to-back games this season and play again on Saturday.
Lakers: At Houston on Saturday.
Spurs: At Atlanta on Saturday.
(© Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)