Spurs down Lakers for 13th consecutive victory

Los Angeles Lakers forward Brandon Bass shoots between San Antonio Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, left, and forward Kawhi Leonard. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)

LOS ANGELES — Before tipoff, Manu Ginobili was unaware the San Antonio Spurs were facing the Lakers on the 10th anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s 81-point performance.

Ginobili figured it out from all of the highlights and laudatory announcements to the Staples Center crowd, and then he put on a throwback performance that kept San Antonio rolling.

Ginobili scored a season-high 20 points, Kawhi Leonard added 18 and the Spurs beat Los Angeles 108-95 Friday night for their 13th consecutive victory.

Bryant scored five points amid repeated reminders of his 81-point effort on this floor against Toronto, still the second-highest scoring performance in NBA history. The ticket stubs carried a photo of Bryant from that 2006 night, and commemorative T-shirts sold out by halftime.

It was news to the Spurs.

"Once the game started, they made sure we knew," Ginobili said with a laugh. "It's incredible having even the stamina, not only the talent, to go at it and score 81 points."

The nostalgia had no effect on the Spurs and Ginobili, who is nearly 13 months older than the 37-year-old Bryant. The Argentine veteran went 9 for 10 with four rebounds and four assists while the Spurs rolled to another businesslike win, their 20th in 21 games overall.

"It's been a while," Ginobili said. "First time in the year. Sometimes it happens. When you start the game and it goes your way and every shot goes in, that's it. There's not much more than that."

D'Angelo Russell scored 18 points for the Lakers, who have lost five straight and nine of 10. The Spurs led the Lakers throughout the final 3 1/2 quarters, stretching the margin to 25 points.

KOBE'S COMFORT

Bryant never appeared to be close to doing something spectacular in his anniversary game, going 2 for 9 and picking up six assists in 27 minutes. He will look back fondly on 14 years of clashes with Ginobili.

"Manu is a special player," Bryant said. "There is a certain cadence that every player has. It's something that's innate. Manu, myself, (Russell) Westbrook, we all play with that very, very high motor. That's what we were born with."

KOBE AND POP

Bryant wouldn't share the details of a warm pregame visit with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, but he missed his first five shots and didn't score until 5 1/2 minutes remained in the first half. The 20-year veteran spent the fourth quarter with ice strapped to his sore right shoulder after his lowest-scoring performance against the Spurs in his career.

DO IT AGAIN?

Does Bryant believe another player could match or surpass his 81-point effort?

"I think so," he said. "It's just a matter of -- you have to believe that it's possible. You've got to be in tip-top shape to be able to do it, too. It takes a lot of energy and the ability to carry that energy for the duration of the game."

BIG DATE

Despite playing without injured LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio kept its streak intact heading into its much-anticipated showdown with the defending champion Warriors in Oakland on Monday.

"It's just another game of the schedule," Leonard said. "(The streak) is good, but we're trying to keep getting better. That's the challenge."

VETS RETURN

Tony Parker and Tim Duncan didn't have to do much as they returned to San Antonio's lineup after sitting out Thursday's blowout win at Phoenix. Parker had 10 points and Duncan added four in 22 minutes.

BLATT FIRED

Cleveland coach David Blatt's firing was the 221st head coaching change in the NBA since Popovich took over the Spurs in 1996. "All of us in the business know how it works," Popovich said of Blatt's ouster despite a 30-11 record. "We always feel badly when it happens to a colleague, and this is another case. He's a heck of a coach, but circumstances often dictate what happens to some coaches. It's got really nothing to do with their abilities."

TIP-INS

Spurs: Aldridge skipped the game with back spasms. David West started in his place and scored eight points. ... Bryant's farewell game in San Antonio is Feb. 6.

Lakers: Rookie F Larry Nance Jr. missed his third straight game with a sore right knee. ... Former Lakers guard Jordan Farmar attended the game.

UP NEXT

Spurs: At Warriors on Monday.

Lakers: At Portland on Saturday.