Sports

Shorthanded Lakers fall short against Spurs

Gregg Popovich called a timeout, walking directly from his bench across the court in an angered rush. He pointed at a fan in a blue collared shirt in the second row and motioned for him to get in the game.

That fan? Hall of Famer David Robinson.

Turns out, the Spurs didn’t need him — San Antonio gaining a game on the Lakers in the race for one of the final play-in tournament spots with a 117-110 victory.

The win ties Popovich with Don Nelson for the most NBA coaching wins with 1,335 regular-season victories.

Plenty of the greats were at the Spurs-Lakers game Monday night in San Antonio, and like Robinson, most of them weren’t in uniform.

Just like Popovich wished he could’ve had Robinson in the game patrolling the paint, Lakers coach Frank Vogel just had to look down his bench for players he wished he could use — a group that Monday included LeBron James.

James missed Monday’s game against the Spurs, swelling and soreness in his left knee coming just two days after he scored 56 points in a win the Lakers desperately needed against the Golden State Warriors.

The injury cost him five games beginning in late January and he’s been listed as “questionable” on the team’s injury report since.

“The heavy load that he’s carrying for us this year, we know that it’s always a possibility. I think that’s why we continue to list him as questionable to see how it’s responding over the 48 hours between games,” Vogel said pregame. “And this is just one of those days where it was significant enough to hold him out.”

Without James, and of course Anthony Davis and Kendrick Nunn, the Lakers needed balanced production to challenge the Spurs, but while their offense performed well enough, the Lakers couldn’t get enough stops.

The Spurs shot better than 50% from the field and led by as many as 14, forcing the Lakers to chase them for almost the entire game. And while they were able to briefly take one-point leads, the Lakers couldn’t get enough big plays down the stretch.

Russell Westbrook scored 17 to go with 10 rebounds and six assists. Carmelo Anthony and Malik Monk each had 17, and Talen Horton-Tucker scored 18 to lead the team.

Dejounte Murray, the Spurs’ young All-Star guard, led everyone with 26 points, with each of the other four San Antonio starters joining him in double figures.

The Spurs now trail the Lakers by four games in the loss column.



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