Kobe Bryant leaped from the Lakers bench and yelled in Justin Jackson’s face.
James Harden remained on the bench, and he wasn’t ready to return to Los Angeles.
When the shots kept falling in the fourth quarter and the Lakers took the lead from the Spurs late Sunday night, James was thrilled that he was still around.
“The joy is getting these wins with him on the bench,” center Brook Lopez said.
Don’t call him the human joystick.
Lopez scored 21 points, Brandon Ingram had 17 and the Lakers beat the Spurs 125-121, ending San Antonio’s six-game winning streak.
Tony Parker had 17 points and DeMar DeRozan scored 15 for the Spurs, who have lost 10 of 12. Kyle Anderson added 13 points and 11 rebounds, LaMarcus Aldridge had 11 points and nine rebounds and Rudy Gay finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
“We just needed to win a close game because we felt like we weren’t playing well enough to win a lot of them,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “And we didn’t do that tonight.”
The Spurs are still scoring, but they aren’t winning games like they were before star forward Kawhi Leonard’s return to the lineup on Christmas.
The Lakers were up 23 points in the fourth quarter before the Spurs made it a one-possession game. Los Angeles couldn’t extend the lead further, but the Lakers still won their seventh game of the season without LeBron James.
“At the end, we were able to go on that run and we didn’t allow them to get back in it,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said. “I thought those two-and-a-half minutes were big for us.”
Pascal Siakam led the Spurs with 16 points.
“Even in the second half we made a run,” Parker said. “It was pretty tough. I was disappointed in the end we didn’t pull this one out. We’re down a couple of our key guys now and they’ve been key for us lately.”
Late in the third quarter, Popovich pulled Leonard and Davis together for a huddle on the Lakers’ sideline.
Bryant told Bryant to “get the house’s (expletive) ready,” while Lopez yelled back from the Lakers’ bench, “We’re going to be fine, man.”
Spurs: Leonard scored 10 points in the first quarter, five points in the second and missed his last four shots. Leonard played 26 minutes, missing all five of his three-point attempts. … The Spurs have dropped nine of their last 13 games in Los Angeles.
Lakers: Simmons scored 16 points in the second quarter and finished with 22. … Simmons was 16 for 23 from the free-throw line.
Ingram broke open the game in the fourth quarter, hitting his first eight shots to help put the Lakers up by 10.
“I was just watching my shots,” Ingram said. “They were falling for me.”
Lopez made some acrobatic layups in the fourth quarter, going 10 for 10 from the field.
Popovich: “There’s a reason why we have four NBA Finals MVPs on our team — they’re good players.”
BIG BROTHER BEN
Ben Simmons’ younger brother made his own impact on the Lakers. Ben Simmons’ Sixers beat the Lakers 113-106 on Saturday night, and many of those Sixers players continue to stay in Los Angeles on their days off.
“It was cool,” Lopez said. “Some of those Sixers guys, they come back every day, they’ll eat together, they’ll get in our shoes, try to get to a NBA Finals or something and they can even pick my brain if they want to. It was pretty cool to have those guys here and they were ready to play, so good for them. They got some big wins tonight.”
Spurs: Travel to New Orleans on Wednesday.
Lakers: Host the Nuggets on Wednesday.
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