LOS ANGELES (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points and the San Antonio Spurs beat the Los Angeles Lakers 106-102 on Saturday night to remain unbeaten at home.
Kawhi Leonard added 20 points and 13 rebounds to help the Spurs win their 28th straight home game to open the season. The Spurs’ 37th straight home victory dating back to last season was surprisingly difficult.
Kobe Bryant scored 25 points in his final appearance in San Antonio. The Lakers (11-42) are 5-24 on the road this season, but one last hurrah for Bryant in San Antonio was what they needed to nearly upset the Spurs.
Bryant spent much of his career tormenting the Spurs and he did so again after a sluggish start. He finished 9 for 28 from the field, but was 7 for 18 in a dynamic second half that electrified a pro-Bryant crowd.
After rising to drain a 3-pointer with Leonard squarely in his face contesting the attempt, Bryant turned to an injured Tim Duncan on the bench and shrugged his shoulders. The teams would trade 3-pointers following that shot, but the Spurs’ were able to hold Los Angeles to just three points in the final 2 minutes.
Bryant had a sore right shoulder, but he was not about to miss one last game against his fiercest rivals. He has faced the Spurs 90 times in the regular season and postseason, his most against any opponent.
He made his first shot, a 20-foot step-back jumper against Leonard, and then opened the second half by draining a 15-foot jumper over Leonard and Aldridge. He also blocked Aldridge’s two-foot jumper midway through the third quarter.
Bryant drained a 3-pointer late in the third quarter, remaining frozen on the follow through before shaking his head after missing his first six 3s.
Bryant made his next two 3-pointers, eliciting roars of “Kobe” from a large contingent of Lakers fans. The Spurs called timeout after Bryant’s third 3 resulted in a four-point play after he was fouled by Patty Mills. Bryant bent over after making the shot, jabbing at the court with two fingers before holstering his hand like a gun.
The Lakers would finish 10 for 30 on 3-pointers.
San Antonio native Jordan Clarkson added 21 points for Los Angeles.
Lakers: Forward Julius Randle was shaken up after diving into a cameraman on the baseline in the final minute while attempting to save a loose ball. He was helped off the court, but attempted to return before time expired. … The Spurs honored Bryant with a 3-minute video. The Spurs’ Big Three of Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all paid tribute to Bryant’s competitiveness along with San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. Bryant walked over to the Spurs’ bench prior to tipoff and hugged Popovich, sharing a few words with San Antonio’s longtime coach.
Spurs: Duncan missed his seventh straight game, but Popovich said he is nearing a return. “He’s getting close,” Popovich said. “The question will be do we want to give him any time before the (All-Star) break or not, but he’s been going 3-on-3 and going up and down. He’s close.” … San Antonio’s 12-game lead in the Southwest is the largest ever since the division was formed in 2004-2005. … In addition to Duncan and Ginobili, the Spurs were also without Matt Bonner. The reserve forward suffered a left calf strain Friday against Dallas, which was just his 20th game of the season. … Pop star Selena Gomez sat courtside, wearing a Tony Parker jersey.
Lakers: At Indiana on Monday night.
Spurs: At Miami on Tuesday night.
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