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Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012

Spurs edge Lakers on clutch shot in waning moments

AP

LOS ANGELES — The San Antonio Spurs' final offensive play was smartly drawn and precisely executed, ending in a clutch jumper by Danny Green.

News photo
Back off: Los Angeles' Kobe Bryant keeps the ball away from San Antonio's Manu Ginobili on Tuesday. AP

The Lakers' final play? Well, 213-cm Pau Gasol ended up shooting a 3-pointer.

While coach Mike D'Antoni is on his way to Los Angeles with new schemes and strategies, Gregg Popovich and the Spurs are headed out of town with an outstanding start to the season.

Green hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 9.3 seconds left, Tony Parker scored 19 points and the Spurs beat Los Angeles 84-82 Tuesday night in the Lakers' first loss since firing Mike Brown.

Tim Duncan had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs, who improved the Western Conference's best record to 7-1 thanks to Green's third 3-pointer of the night. The Spurs executed perfectly when facing a one-point deficit, with Duncan helping Kawhi Leonard get the ball to Green.

"(Popovich) drew up a play and said, 'If you're open, catch it and shoot it,' " Green said. "When he draws plays for the young guys like myself, it's very rare and very surprising. You don't expect it. It's only my third year here, so for him to draw up a play for me, there was a lot of pressure on me. But you take the shot with the confidence he gives you."

After Gasol unsurprisingly missed just the 117th 3-point attempt of his 12-year NBA career, Tiago Splitter's hustle prevented the Lakers from controlling the rebound before the buzzer sounded on Los Angeles' first game since hiring D'Antoni late Sunday night.

"It felt good when I released it, (but) it wasn't designed to go that way," Gasol said. "We're not discouraged by it in the situation we're in. We're looking forward to a new coach stepping in on Thursday and getting going. Hopefully I'll be closer to the basket next time."

After the wholesale upheaval of the past five days, the Lakers found another kind of drama in their first game since the club surprisingly bypassed 11-time NBA champion Phil Jackson to hire D'Antoni, who was expected to arrive in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

And though Jackson has criticized the Lakers' handling of his candidacy, the players who had been eager to play for the Zen Master seem equally eager to line up for D'Antoni. Bryant and Steve Nash enthusiastically endorsed D'Antoni's hiring at the morning shootaround, with Bryant downplaying the notion that the Lakers' defense would suffer during the offense-minded coach's tenure.

"We're playing much, much better," Bryant said. "We're being much more aggressive on both ends of the floor. We're doing a good job communicating during the game, pushing guys and making them take tough shots."

Knicks 99, Magic 89

In Orlando, Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points, J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton each added 21, and New York held off the Magic.

The only unbeaten team in the NBA, the Knicks are 5-0 for the first time since opening the 1993-94 season with seven wins.

Bobcats 92, Wizards 76

In Charlotte, Ramon Sessions scored 21 points and the Bobcats beat winless Washington to get back-to-back victories for the first time since last December.

Rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist chipped in with 15 points and eight rebounds before leaving in the fourth quarter to ice down a sore back. Kemba Walker battled inconsistent shooting but finished with 17 points for the Bobcats.

Raptors 74, Pacers 72

In Indianapolis, DeMar DeRozan scored 15 points and Jose Calderon had 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

DeRozan and Calderon each had 10 points in the first half for the Raptors, who had a franchise-low five points in the fourth quarter. Toronto led 69-58 heading into the fourth and hit only one field goal the rest of the way, also a franchise low.

Nets 114, Cavaliers 101

In New York, Deron Williams had 26 points and 10 assists, Joe Johnson scored 25 points, and Brooklyn beat road-weary Cleveland for its third straight victory.

Trail Blazers 103, Kings 86

In Sacramento, Damian Lillard had 22 points and nine assists to help Portland stop a four-game losing streak with a victory over short-handed Sacramento.

The Trail Blazers used a strong third quarter to build its lead to 16 points and pushed the cushion to 22 early in the fourth.



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