NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Wednesday, April 11th (All times eastern)
Los Angeles Lakers (36-22) at San Antonio Spurs (40-15), 8:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A pair of traditional Western Conference powers meet in the Alamo City on Wednesday when the San Antonio Spurs entertain the Los Angeles Lakers.
Some of the usual star power will be missing, however, as the Lakers will be without superstar Kobe Bryant for a third straight game due to a sore left shin.
The Spurs, who have already clinched their 15th consecutive postseason berth, are coming off their first loss in just over three weeks on Monday when Devin Harris netted a game-high 25 points as the Utah Jazz snapped San Antonio's second 11-game win streak of the year with a 91-84 decision at EnergySolutions Arena.
Extending the run was of little consequence to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who rested his three stars, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, all of who are expected back in the lineup tonight against LA.
In the Big Three's absence against the Jazz, Gary Neal and Tiago Splitter scored 14 points apiece to pace San Antonio, which also won 11 straight from Jan. 30-Feb. 20 earlier this season.
"We tried hard. We gave a great effort to win the game," said Splitter. "In the end of the game, we couldn't hit the shots to end the game well and they did."
Popovich has routinely rested players in this lockout-shortened season in order to keep his charges fresh but the loss in Salt Lake City, coupled with an Oklahoma City win dropped the Spurs one game back of the Thunder for first place in the Western Conference.
The Lakers, meanwhile, survived in New Orleans without Bryant in their last encounter on Monday.
Metta World Peace drained the go-ahead three-pointer from the top of the key with 1:26 to play in that one as Los Angeles held on for a 93-91 win over the Hornets.
World Peace finished with eight points -- six in the final quarter -- Pau Gasol netted 25 points to go with nine rebounds, Andrew Bynum added 18 and 11 boards and Ramon Sessions finished with 17 to go with six rebounds and six assists for the Lakers, who snapped a brief two-game skid.
"It was the offense. It was the tempo," World Peace said. "We missed some shots, okay. We had a couple of turnovers, alright. Stay with our tempo. Don't panic. Our point guards did an excellent job. That's why they had no fast break points. It wasn't the defense. It was the offense."
The Lakers are now 1 1/2 games ahead of their Staples Center co-tenants, the Clippers, for the third seed in the West as well as the Pacific Division lead.
Bryant, the NBA's leading scorer at 28.1 points, has been wearing a walking boot to protect an inflammation surrounding a tendon.
"It's OK that it's taking time for him to get right," coach Mike Brown told the Lakers' website after practice Tuesday.
LA has won two straight over the Spurs after losing the previous three meetings in the series. The Lakers, meanwhile, are an impressive 7-1 in games played on Wednesday this season but San Antonio trumps that at a gaudy 13-1.
04/11 10:46:22 ET