SAN ANTONIO -- Remember Dec. 23, versus Golden State? The Lakers blew out the team with the NBA’s top record, and they did so without Kobe Bryant, creating plenty of chatter about whether they play better without their 36-year-old star, as many advanced statistics indicate.
Friday night wasn’t like that. Sure, the Lakers were again playing against top competition, the defending champion Spurs, and they were again without Bryant, who likely won’t play again this season after tearing the rotator cuff in his right shoulder this week.
But instead of playing inspired ball without their top attraction, as they did in December against the Warriors, the Lakers were simply bulldozed out of the AT&T Center, as they lost their season-high seventh straight game, dropping them to 12-32 this season.
Turning point: the Spurs led 9-0 from the start and by as much as 23 in the first half. The Lakers did cut the Spurs' lead to 10 early in the fourth quarter, but the Spurs reasserted themselves and put the Lakers away for good. The Lakers never led.
Player of the game: Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard scored 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting to go along with 14 rebounds. He didn’t seem to be trying that hard either.
New starting lineup: Lakers coach Byron Scott trotted out Jordan Clarkson at point guard, Wayne Ellington at shooting guard, Ryan Kelly at small forward, Jordan Hill at power forward and Robert Sacre at center. Only one of those players scored in double figures: Clarkson, the rookie, who made his first NBA start in his hometown and finished with 11 points on 5-of-9 shooting in 29 minutes.
No love for Lin: For some reason, Scott decided not to play Jeremy Lin, who was healthy and available. It was a surprising move considering the game was such a blowout.
Top scorer: Nick Young led the Lakers with 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting off the bench.