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Lakers Force Spurs' Stumble

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The Lakers barely survive an almost epic collapse to escape San Antonio with a victory.

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that looked like a certain victory for the Lakers until the closing minutes, the purple and gold were able to hold on to a rare victory behind the clutch play of one Nick "Swaggy P" Young. On a night that was supposed to be all about Kobe Bryant, it was some of his supporting cast that he called "soft as... Charmin" yesterday that stepped up, with Nick Young and Jeremy Lin combining for 43 points as the Lakers knocked off the defending NBA champion Spurs in San Antonio despite some late scares.

On this night, no one on the planet could guard Swaggy, as he dropped in a Lakers high 29 points, with five three pointers in the first half alone. However, it was the sixth three that would be the most important, as Nick Young did this to allow the Lakers to barely cling to a victory:

That led to this...

The Lakers rode some hot three-point shooting (9-14) to a 54-50 first half lead, and continued to do just enough to pull away every time that San Antonio flirted with a comeback. Until late, when things got weird. The Lakers looked poised for a relatively easy win, but an epic collapse in the last two minutes allowed the Spurs to tie the game on a Manu Ginobili free throw and force overtime.

Byron Scott's new strategy of using Bryant as the closing point guard backfired in spectacular fashion, as some uncharacteristically poor decision making (including a few of his patented jump-passes) led to Kobe committing three turnovers in the fourth quarter, all in the last two minutes to go with three missed shots. Could some of this be due to fatigue? Nonsense, Bryant is skipping most shootarounds.

For the Spurs, it was the seemingly immortal Manu Ginobili making key play after key play in that late Spurs run despite a relatively poor shooting night overall (6-16) from the field. Fellow Spurs senior citizen Tim Duncan showed no signs that he has aged at all, throwing in 19 points and 18 rebounds with 2 blocks for the silver and black in the losing effort.

For those of you that survived the near cardiac arrest-inducing end to this contest, we will see you Sunday in Minnesota.