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Lakers, fans don't get what they want in 84-82 loss to San Antonio

Fan favorite Phil Jackson isn't there, and neither is L.A. defense as Spurs' Danny Green hits winning three with 9.3 seconds left. Then Lakers botch final play.

November 14, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times
  • Kobe Bryant and Danny Green react after Green hit a go-ahead three-pointer with nine seconds left in the game.
Kobe Bryant and Danny Green react after Green hit a go-ahead three-pointer… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)

The "We Want Phil" chants disappeared, replaced by a more familiar refrain from Lakers fans.

They begged for "Deee-fense" late in the game but instead watched Danny Green drill a three-pointer over Kobe Bryant with 9.3 seconds to play.

Then the Lakers botched their last possession, which somehow ended with Pau Gasol hurling a three-point attempt from the right corner.

Given the above, it wasn't surprising that the San Antonio Spurs beat them, 84-82, Tuesday at Staples Center.

It was actually a surly effort by the Lakers, blindsided over the weekend by the stunning firing of Mike Brown and the equally surprising hiring of Mike D'Antoni instead of Phil Jackson.

They were so low on point guards that Bryant played the position a majority of the game, finishing with 28 points and eight assists as Steve Nash and Steve Blake watched from the locker room with injuries.

Right after the game, though, Bryant grimaced with his palms turned up while asking Metta World Peace what he was doing on the last play. World Peace inbounded the ball to Gasol, who couldn't get rid of it because Bryant was guarded closely by Kawhi Leonard.

So Gasol tossed it up from beyond the arc with 2.9 seconds left.

Who drew that one up?

"I designed it," World Peace said. "Well, coach designed it for Kobe and then the guy denied Kobe so I said, 'OK, let me get it to the two-time champion Pau.' The Spaniard almost made the shot."

Message to Metta: Gasol was part of two championships with the Lakers. He is not the two-time champion of the NBA's three-point contest.

Gasol has now made one three-point attempt in five tries this season.

"I think it was really too much confusion," Bryant said of the final play.

Bryant has done a lot in his career. Won five championships, been on 14 All-Star teams, won a league MVP award.

This was a new one for him.

The Lakers' lack of point guards would never be a good sign for them with Tony Parker in town. Maybe they can get away with it against Sacramento or Indiana or Charlotte. But not San Antonio.

Give the Lakers points for creativity by handing the offense over to Bryant without Nash (small fracture in left leg) and Blake (abdominal strain).

Darius Morris started at point guard and Chris Duhon was his backup but Bryant was the main ball-handler on a majority of possessions, and for the final 9:04.

He found Gasol for a 17-footer, giving the Lakers an 82-79 lead with 1:03 left. They didn't score again.

Bernie Bickerstaff coached his third game for the Lakers, and it might not be his last. Newly hired Coach Mike D'Antoni was recovering from knee surgery and said he probably wouldn't be on the sidelines until Sunday against Houston. The Lakers' next game is Friday against Phoenix.

Before Tuesday's tipoff, Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich couldn't help but add to the muddled mix as Lakers fans digested the team's choosing D'Antoni over Jackson.

"At some point it seemed from what we all read he [Jackson] was coming," Popovich said. "I just had this thought like putting the Soviet Union back together. He was going to do a [Vladimir] Putin and put it all back together. 'Cause I'm a strange person, that went through my head."

It wasn't Popovich's first Russian metaphor involving the Lakers. When Jackson left in 2004 and Shaquille O'Neal was traded a month later, Popovich compared it to "the breakup of the Soviet Union."

The Lakers were certainly broken up in the final minute Tuesday, ruining an otherwise solid effort.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

twitter.com/Mike_Bresnahan

Times staff writer Melissa Rohlin and Times correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.

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