Defending champion Lakers dominate Spurs

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Defending champion Lakers dominate Spurs

SAN ANTONIO - The two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers handed league-leader San Antonio a punishing 99-83 defeat on their home floor at AT&T Center Sunday in a game billed as a possible Western Conference finals preview.

The Lakers brought the Spurs’ 22-game home winning streak to an abrupt halt by winning their seventh game in a row, launching with a bang what was expected to be a tough seven-day road trip.

Los Angeles will visit Atlanta on Tuesday, star-studded but struggling Miami on Thursday and Western Conference rivals Dallas on Saturday.

Kobe Bryant scored 26 points and Pau Gasol added 21 for the Lakers, who used a red-hot shooting start and suffocating defense to beat a Spurs team that had beaten them twice this season.

Their last meeting was decided by an Antonio McDyess tip-in at the buzzer.

The Lakers held San Antonio to 36 percent shooting and led by as many as 32 points in a contest that was even more lopsided than the final score indicated.

“Today was a good test to see how much we’ve improved since the All-Star break,” Bryant said. “And we passed today.”

Even with the win though, the Lakers are still six-and-a-half games back from the Spurs in the Western Conference standings.

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