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Spurs' bench pushes Lakers to the finish in loss

The Sports Xchange
 
Roster Report · Spurs' bench pushes Lakers to the finish in loss · Notes, Quotes
 

If the San Antonio Spurs' reserves needed a shot in the arm before the start of the playoffs, they got it Tuesday night by taking the Los Angeles Lakers to the wire on their own home floor and the No. 2 seed on the line for L.A.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich opted to rest four starters -- Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan and Antonio McDyess. It didn't stop the unit from giving the Lakers fits all night long.

"We came in with the mindset that we wanted to win," said Spurs backup guard George Hill, who took over a starting spot.

The Spurs (61-20) close out the regular season Wednesday night at the Phoenix Suns, who were eliminated from playoff contention some time ago. Popovich said he'll play his full team in the game and made it clear that resting his starters in L.A. was not about intentionally holding back against the Lakers.

"It makes more sense to play (Wednesday) than (Tuesday night)," Popovich said. "Even if it was Phoenix (Tuesday) and the Lakers (Wednesday), we'd end up sitting them."

LAKERS 102, SPURS 93: Kobe Bryant's three-pointer with 2:55 to play put Los Angeles ahead, 96-88 with 2:55 to play. It was finally enough gap to put away the exceptionally undermanned Spurs, who rested the starting five except for Richard Jefferson. Still, six Spurs scored in double-figures, led by 16 from rookie Gary Neal. Matt Bonner came off the bench for 13 points and DeJuan Blair had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. San Antonio trailed 91-88 with four minutes to play.

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