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Friday, March 14, 2014
D'Antoni: Spurs 'grabbed our heart' in loss

By Matthew Tynan
Special to ESPNLosAngeles.com



SAN ANTONIO -- The Los Angeles Lakers' loss on Friday was a franchise-worst against the San Antonio Spurs, piling on to what has been the most difficult year of Mike D'Antoni's career.

The coach nodded his head emphatically before the question was even completed in the postgame scrum, acknowledging that beyond the record, dealing with the ebbs and flows has been a near impossibility.

Mike D'Antoni
Mike D'Antoni's most difficult of campaigns was made that much worse by Friday's defeat in San Antonio. It was the fourth loss by at least 30 points, the most in a season by any Lakers team.
“It definitely turned a few months ago where we couldn't get guys healthy,” D'Antoni said. “We are trying to develop guys and trying to hang in there with them and trying to teach them how to be a good team.

“Our guys have to learn how to compete at this level, and it is not easy.”

D'Antoni said the Spurs “grabbed our heart” in the 119-85 blowout in San Antonio.

For the Lakers -- tied with the Utah Jazz for the worst record in the Western Conference -- holding onto confidence has been a major chore through all the adversity.

“That is my job, first of all. And that's all our jobs. We got good guys. It is not a lack of trying or they don't care. They care a lot,” D'Antoni said. “We just sometimes get outmanned.

“They will come back, and we expect to have a good showing on Wednesday.”

That’s when the Spurs come to L.A. for a second helping against the Lakers.

With a locker room full of new faces and bodies in one-year deals, perspective on the problems may be difficult to grasp within the big picture of a franchise not accustomed to looking up at every other team in the West standings.

But that is not the case for Pau Gasol, who has been through the thick and now the thin. He suffered through some putrid years early in his Memphis Grizzlies career, but he said this campaign has just been different.

Pau Gasol
"It's definitely one of the worst seasons as far as the collective results and record, especially when you're a franchise like the Lakers," Pau Gasol said.
“This season has been rough in many, many ways, in many aspects. We still try to go out and compete, but the load is just getting bigger and bigger,” said Gasol, who delivered 18 points and grabbed 11 boards in the loss. “We don't seem to click a lot of times. It's definitely one of the worst seasons as far as the collective results and record, especially when you're a franchise like the Lakers.

“You don't expect to have a season like this.”

Nobody expects this from the Lakers, including the Spurs, especially Gregg Popovich.

“Mike [D'Antoni] is going through hell,” Pop said prior to tipoff. “You have all kinds of expectations at the beginning of the year, and injuries destroy them. It's disappointing for everyone.”

The Lakers will resurface at some point. It's inevitable. But until then, their future is murky -- and those historic battles in San Antonio seem like a thing of the past. As Gasol, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili slide down the back side of their careers, we wonder when beatdowns like these are forgotten.

Even the Spurs hope these memories are forgotten soon.

“I miss the rivalry with the Lakers,” Tony Parker said. “It's just tough for them, and hopefully they'll be better next year.”