Reporting from San Antonio — Take your pick from plenty of lowlights in another unsettling Lakers loss, but there was a hint of life from one particularly important 23-year-old.
Andrew Bynum was the Lakers' best player Tuesday, scoring down low with improved rhythm and affecting a handful of San Antonio's shots with his defensive play.
He made all four of his shots, had 10 points and took seven rebounds. His major gaffes were at the free-throw line, where he made only two of eight.
The Lakers lost, 97-82, but Bynum might have gained some traction in his seventh game back since off-season knee surgery.
"I've just got to be a little bit more assertive and really, really get that trust from my teammates again," Bynum said. "Just be a little bit more demonstrative asking for the ball, and be big in the lane.
Said Lakers Coach Phil Jackson: "I thought he looked better. I thought he looked like he had some intensity and played with the kind of energy we needed."
Bynum, a career 69.2% free-throw shooter coming into Tuesday, wasn't thrilled with his performance at the line, for obvious reasons.
"I was shooting and then it kind of got into my head a little bit," he said. "I put more pressure [on myself] and started shooting the ball too hard."
Seen this before
Kobe Bryant said the Lakers' malaise since an 8-0 start reminded him of the 2001-02 season, when the franchise encountered some regular-season losing streaks on the way to eventually winning a third consecutive championship.
"We had to deal with it when we won a three-peat here last time," he said. "Same type of situation that you deal with."
That championship team went through a 3-6 skid in January 2002 and a three-game losing streak a month later but never lost four consecutive games, which the Lakers did four weeks ago.
One last look
Back-to-back losses last week to Miami and Milwaukee set a new low for the Lakers.
It marked the first time since 1959 they had lost consecutive home games by at least 16 points. The franchise was still located in Minneapolis when it last happened.