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Old 03-12-2009, 01:56 AM   #1
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Talking Lakers-Spurs Preview

Lakers-Spurs Preview

After some recent road struggles against other contenders in the Western Conference, the first-place Los Angeles Lakers had to feel good about taking down one of the conference's hottest teams in their last game.

They just hope to have something left for another big matchup in the finale of a three-game trip.

The Lakers look to build on a hard-fought win when they visit the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night in the final regular-season matchup between the teams with the best records in the West.

Los Angeles (51-13) lost consecutive road games against playoff hopefuls Denver, Phoenix and Portland before snapping the skid with a 102-96 win at Houston on Wednesday.

Kobe Bryant scored 31 of his 37 points in the second half - including 18 in the fourth quarter - as the Lakers overcame an 11-point halftime deficit to snap the Rockets' 12-game home winning streak.

Most of the postgame conversation surrounded a heated fourth-quarter exchange between Bryant and Rockets forward Ron Artest, who continued to jaw at each other the rest of the game.

``It wasn't much of a battle,'' said Bryant, who helped limit Artest to 11 points and 4-for-16 shooting. ``I kicked his (butt) tonight.''

Beating the team with the third-best record in the West may have been confidence-inspiring, but the Lakers will have to regroup fast for this meeting with the second-best. The Spurs (43-20) were idle after defeating Charlotte 100-86 at home Tuesday.

The Lakers are 11-4 in the second half of back-to-backs, including a 112-111 loss in their only previous trip to San Antonio on Jan. 14.

That win started the Spurs' 9-1 run at AT&T Center. After dropping three of four overall from Feb. 27-March 4, San Antonio has returned home to win three straight by an average of 13.7 points.

``We've been playing pretty solid,'' forward Kurt Thomas said after Tuesday's victory. ``We hit a few bumps in the road when we lost a couple of games. But I think we've bounced back and hopefully we can show that on Thursday night.''

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Old 03-12-2009, 01:57 AM   #2
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