No Kobe? No problem.
The Los Angeles Lakers cruised to an easy 98-84 road win Wednesday night over the San Antonio Spurs in one of the team’s most impressive outings of the season. The Lakers were led by Andrew Bynum’s career-high 30 rebounds and Metta World Peace’s 26 points.
Bynum became just one of five Lakers to reach the 30-rebound plateau, a feat that had not been accomplished in over two decades. Bynum dominated the boards, single-handedly outrebounding the smaller Spurs 19-18 by halftime. He ended the game just 3 rebounds shy of matching the Spurs’ total as a team.
The Lakers, who have often been criticized for not consistently playing a full 48 minutes, played a solid game on both ends of the floor, steadily building their lead over the Spurs until it peaked at 26 with about seven and a half minutes to go in the fourth.
World Peace made 5 of 5 shots in the early minutes of the fourth quarter, including one wild three-pointer to beat the shot clock. He shot 10-15 for the game and has played particularly well during the current three-game stretch without Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers bench was also productive, with both Matt Barnes and Steve Blake reaching double figures for the night. Josh McRoberts also chipped in 2 points on a nifty drive-by dunk over Matt Bonner to open the fourth quarter.
Defense has always been the mantra of Lakers head coach Mike Brown, and tonight the Lakers finally seemed to heed his call. The Spurs were held to just 40.7% shooting from the field and were outrebounded 60-33, with only one of those rebounds coming on the offensive glass.
After resting his three best players at home during Monday night’s game at Utah, Spurs coach Greg Popovich looked on in disbelief as Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili combined for a 12-34 effort from the floor.
Only two Spurs players reached double figures for the game — Duncan and Danny Green. Green ended the game with a team-high 22 points on 5-6 shooting from beyond the arc.
Despite a so-so shooting night (7-20) from Bynum, the Lakers still maintained control the entire game because of Bynum’s complete dominance on defense. Neither Duncan nor Spurs center DeJuan Blair were able to contain Bynum on the boards. Duncan in particular appeared frustrated at times trying to secure defensive rebounds.
The Lakers looked absolutely stellar from the beginning of the third quarter until the seven minute mark of the fourth, during which their ball movement was crisp and their shooting was lights out. The Lakers relaxed a bit midway through the fourth quarter as the Spurs cut the deficit from 26 to 13, but jumpers by Steve Blake and Pau Gasol bolstered the lead back to 19 with a minute to play.
The Pacific Division-leading Lakers have won five of their last six road games, and ended the Spurs’ eight-game home win streak. The Spurs are now 0-2 after winning eleven in a row. The Lakers will see the Spurs twice more in the next nine days.
By Jake Vitanza
Contributing Writer for The Daily Sports Herald