Associated Press - The San Antonio Spurs kept insisting the playoffs were a new season and that their woeful finish to the regular season was not as grave as it appeared.
After 16 straight postseason appearances, San Antonio should know what it's talking about. Tony Parker had 28 points and seven assists and the Spurs beat the Los Angeles Lakers 102-91 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference first-round playoff series.
Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard had 16 points each, Manu Ginobili added 13 points and Matt Bonner had 10 for San Antonio, which had lost three straight entering the series. Dwight Howard and Steve Blake had 16 points each to lead Los Angeles. Metta World Peace and Pau Gasol added 13 points each, but no other player had more than nine as the Lakers shot 45 percent from the field.
Game 3 is Friday night in Los Angeles. Los Angeles said a key to winning was shooting better, and they did -- but so did San Antonio. Gasol posted early, tipping in a miss by Howard for the game's opening basket and missing a 5-footer before Duncan blocked his 5-foot hook. Gasol was 5 for 14 overall, including 1 for 6 in the second half.
The Lakers went to the perimeter following the block, resulting in consecutive 3s by Blake and World Peace for an 8-6 lead with 8:23 left in the first quarter.
Ginobili once again energized the Spurs, sparking runs of 13-4 and 10-3 to close the first and second quarters. He had 12 points in the first half and was 3 for 4 on 3-pointers.
Howard had heated battles with Bonner and Duncan in the first half. After getting tied up midway through the second quarter, Duncan and Howard walked down the court glaring at each other with Howard jawing at Duncan.
Howard was later grabbed from behind by Bonner and his arm was pulled by Ginobili, but the Lakers All-Star still managed to bank in a layup, flexing his muscles after the shot. Howard even made the ensuing free throw, giving the Lakers a 44-43 lead with 3 minutes left in the first half.