In what many considered to be a Western Conference Finals preview on Sunday, the Los Angeles Lakers made an emphatic statement behind 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists from Kobe Bryant in a 99-83 whipping of San Antonio at the AT&T Center that wasn't as close as the final score indicated.
Gary Neal provided 15 points off the bench while Tony Parker and George Hill netted 14 points apiece for the Spurs, who had their franchise-record 22-game home win streak snapped. San Antonio dropped to 29-3 with its first loss on home hardwood since a Nov. 26 setback to Dallas.
"When you lose like this, it's not as bad as it seems, just like when we won the Miami game (Friday), it's not as good as it seems," Neal commented. "It's one game. Unfortunately, it was against the Lakers, a team we'll probably see in the playoffs. This is a warning sign that we have to continue to work and continue to improve."
Head coach Gregg Popovich emptied the Spurs bench in the fourth quarter and the reserves were able to make the score look respectable.
San Antonio still leads the Mavs by five games for the top spots in the Southwest Division and the West.
The Pistons, meanwhile, snapped a two-game skid Sunday when Tayshaun Prince, playing in his first game since a four-game absence, finished with 20 points and six rebounds as Detroit topped the Washington Wizards, 113-102, at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Rodney Stuckey scored 19 points to go along with nine assists and seven rebounds while both Greg Monroe and Austin Daye contributed 12 points for the Pistons, who had dropped five of six entering Sunday.
"A big part of [Washington's] offense is transition and we did a great job of loading to the basketball and making sure that we didn't allow Wall (to penetrate)," Pistons coach John Kuester said. "We did a good job on him throughout the game until the very end where he made a couple of baskets."
San Antonio has taken three of its last four versus Detroit and will be shooting to sweep the home-and-home season series between the two clubs for the first time since 2006-07.