Spurs beat Lakers to spoil Kobe's return
SAN ANTONIO, Texas - San Antonio's top trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combined for 61 points Friday as the Spurs spoiled Kobe Bryant's return from injury with a 121-97 NBA victory over the Lakers.
San Antonio posted their sixth straight victory and improved to 46-16. They maintained their narrow, half-game lead over Oklahoma City atop the Western Conference.
Oklahoma City also won Friday, as Kevin Durant scored 29 points with 14 rebounds in a 103-92 victory at Sacramento.
San Antonio and Los Angeles were meeting for the third time in 10 days. The Western Conference rivals split the first two games of the regular-season series -- with each team winning by big margins on the road.
Bryant had missed the first two clashes as he sat out seven games with a sore left shin.
On Friday Bryant played just under 30 minutes and scored 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting.
But the Lakers defense could not slow the Spurs, who shot 61 percent from the field.
Duncan led the Spurs with 21 points and eight rebounds. Parker and Ginobili chipped in 20 points apiece. Parker also handed out 10 assists while Ginobili added seven assists and six rebounds.
The Spurs have four games left in the season, and coach Gregg Popovich, his eye already on the playoffs, will continue to limit the minutes of his "big three".
Duncan, 35, is averaging 28.3 minutes per game and the 34-year-old Ginobili 23.5 minutes.
Parker, 29, is the only Spurs player averaging as many as 30 minutes.
"This is the fourth in five nights and then we end with four in five nights," Popovich said of the team's frantic finish to a hectic lockout-shortened regular season. "We’re far from done managing minutes."
The Lakers, who lead cross-town rivals the Clippers by half a game for third place in the West, have two regular-season games remaining, on Sunday at home to Oklahoma City and on Thursday at Sacramento.
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