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Spurs cruise past Lakers, push win streak to 11

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[March 20, 2014]  LOS ANGELES  Make it 11 wins in a row for the sizzling San Antonio Spurs.

Point guard Tony Parker scored 25 points, and the Spurs continued streaking with a 125-109 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

The Spurs, who have the NBA's best record (51-16) and are 12-1 since the All-Star break, defeated the Lakers for the seventh consecutive time and the third time this season. The Lakers' loss came on the heels of Los Angeles suffering its worst defeat to the Spurs on Friday, a 119-85 decision.

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said his team didn't play well until the second half Wednesday.

"Probably the only thing I liked was that they hung in there," Popovich said of his players. "I thought we played really porous defense. I thought a lot of that was because L.A. was very aggressive.

"They were in attack mode all night long. They did a great job of that, and I don't think we adjusted to it until maybe the end of the third quarter. From that point, I thought our defense was very good."

The Lakers (22-45) dropped their third straight and fell for the sixth time in seven games.

San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Forward Tim Duncan added 12 points, 16 rebounds and six assists, and guard Danny Green contributed 16 points. Seven Spurs scored in double figures, including reserve guards Manu Ginobili (13 points and six assists) and Marco Belinelli )10 points).

The Spurs' balance and ball movement are helping them prosper.

"On the defensive end, we're being very active," said Leonard, who hit eight of 12 field-goal attempts and scored 14 of his points in the second half. "And on offense, we're playing with a little bit more pace rather than bringing the ball up slow. It's freeing up everybody."

The Spurs broke up a close game in the final period. They led 92-87 heading into the fourth quarter before pushing the margin to double digits midway through the fourth quarter after Duncan converted a jumper.

"I think you have to give a lot of credit to the Lakers," said Parker, who had five assists and only one turnover in 33 minutes. "They made it hard on us tonight. It was a tough game. We beat them pretty bad at home, so they wanted to come back with a lot of energy. It was a tough first half, but the second half we played a lot better defense."

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San Antonio took a 58-57 lead at the half as Green (14 points) and Parker (13 points) provided the bulk of the offense. The Lakers, though, stayed close mainly on the play of guard Xavier Henry, who came off the bench to score 19 of his 24 points in the first half, 11 of them in the second quarter.

The Spurs began to create some distance in the third quarter. They took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Belinelli for a 78-75 advantage with 5:21 left in the quarter. The two teams practically traded baskets the rest of the quarter before the Spurs took control in the fourth.

"They played hard and executed down the stretch," Henry said. "They made a lot of good plays in the third and fourth quarter. It was a tough way to go out, but we fought."

Los Angeles center Pau Gasol had 22 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.

San Antonio shot 52.6 percent (50 of 95) from the field compared to 42.9 percent (39 of 91) for the Lakers. The Spurs went 12-for-27 (44.4 percent) on 3-point attempts. Los Angeles went 9-for-26 (34.6 percent) from behind the arc.

NOTES: NBA commissioner Adam Silver attended the game. ... Spurs coach Gregg Popovich on Phil Jackson becoming president of the New York Knicks: "I think it's fantastic. It's wonderful for everybody concerned. It's definitely great for the league to have him back in it. It's great for the Knicks. He'll figure it out." ... Lakers F Nick Young could return for Friday's game against the Washington Wizards. Young has missed 11 games with a sore left knee, the same one he fractured in February. ... Los Angeles F Jordan Hill, out for the sixth consecutive game with a sore right knee, might return for either Friday's contest against the Wizards or Sunday's matchup against the Orlando Magic. ... The Spurs improved to 38-2 when leading at halftime. ... San Antonio visits the Sacramento Kings on Friday and the Golden State Warriors on Saturday.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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