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01/10/2013 12:23 AM EST
Parker scores 24 as Spurs beat slumping Lakers

Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Not even a hard-fought loss against a
longtime rival did little to brighten the mood of one of the
more tumultuous seasons in the storied history of the Los
Angeles Lakers.

Tony Parker scored 24 points and the San Antonio Spurs handed
the slumping Lakers their fifth straight loss with a 108-105
victory Wednesday night.

Manu Ginobili added 19 points and Tiago Splitter and Stephen
Jackson had 14 each for San Antonio (28-10), which has won 11
straight at home. Splitter also had a career-high 14 rebounds.

Kobe Bryant had 27 points, Metta World Peace added 23 and Earl
Clark 22 for Los Angeles (15-20). Bryant was 10 for 24 from the
field, missing a 3-pointer on his final attempt that would have
tied the game. Clark missed a follow-up 3 off a long rebound.

What can the Lakers take from such a battle?

"We lost five in a row," Bryant said. "It's pretty

Coming off a 125-112 loss at Houston on Tuesday, the Lakers
fought until the final buzzer.

Bryant's 3-pointer pulled Los Angeles to 105-99 with 3:32
remaining. The 3 led to dueling cries of support between a large
contingent of Lakers fans seated near the Los Angeles bench and
Spurs fans.

Did the effort give Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni reason to smile?

"No, not really," he said. "I'm proud of their effort. They
fought. They fought last night against Houston. You can see the
team getting some traction, but we're a long ways away from a

Antawn Jamison's layup pulled the Lakers to 105-102 following a
timeout, but Artest missed a layup and 3-pointer on consecutive

Ginobili hit a 3-pointer that gave the Spurs a six-point lead,
but Clark responded with his own 3 to close to 108-105, setting
up Bryant's final attempt.

The Spurs missed five shots and had four turnovers in the final
5 minutes, turning a 10-point lead into a nail-biting finish for
the sell-out crowd.

"We kind of stopped," Ginobili said. "We need rhythm this year.
We are getting used to playing faster and we just didn't do it.
We were playing one-on-one instead of doing what we do best and
that's to penetrate, kick and pass the ball."

Even with Lakers big men Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Jordan
Hill out with injuries, the Spurs managed only a 48-40
rebounding advantage. Los Angeles forced 19 turnovers to keep
the game close throughout.

Parker's 17-foot jumper gave the Spurs their largest lead at
83-66, but the Lakers quickly pared the 17-point deficit. Artest
hit a 3, Bryant made a pair of jumpers and Clark had a 21-foot
jumper to pull the Lakers to 83-75 with 49.3 seconds left in the

"The closer it gets, the easier it is to focus and be ready,"
Ginobili said. "Of course, you worry because we were up by 16
and we just messed up the whole game. Like I said before, it was
disappointing to see the team play like that, but at least we
got the win."

Bryant had a sluggish start offensively and the Lakers fell
behind 54-45 at the half.

His first basket came with less than a minute remaining in the
first quarter and he closed the half 2 for 6 from the field.
Bryant credited his poor shooting to Spurs second-year player
Kawhi Leonard.

"It was Kawhi's defense," Bryant said. "He did a good job."

Leonard finished with 11 points, three rebounds, two assists,
two steals and one blocked shot in 33 minutes while primarily
guarding Bryant and World Peace.

"Kawhi Leonard was the start of the show as far as I'm
concerned," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He had a great
night and is getting better and better defensively and starting
to find his way offensively. I thought that was great."

NOTES: Lakers G Steve Blake (abdominal surgery) missed his 28th
game of the season. Howard (shoulder), Gasol (concussion) and
Hill (hip) also sat out the game. The Spurs had every player on
their current roster active. ... The Lakers haven't lost five in
a row since April 3-10, 2011. ... The Lakers are 1-12 when
trailing after the first quarter this season. ... The Spurs
evened their overall record against the Lakers at 74-all. San
Antonio has a 46-29 advantage at home. ... Bryant holds the
Spurs opponent record for most field goal attempts - 41 on Feb.
14, 2004.

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