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Lakers’ Avery Bradley a thorn in Spurs’ side despite early injury exit

Lakers guard Avery Bradley, shown last week against Memphis, made seven of nine shots Sunday against the Spurs.
Lakers guard Avery Bradley, shown last week against Memphis, made seven of nine shot attempts Sunday against the Spurs.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

Avery Bradley had his right leg propped up on a chair with a long, cold compression pad on the bruised leg. He had a plate of food inside his locker and a smile on his face despite not being able to finish the Lakers’ win over San Antonio on Sunday night.

The guard had been menacing on defense again and a spark on offense, his season-high 16 points on seven-for-nine shooting giving the Lakers another offensive weapon in their 103-96 victory over the Spurs at AT&T Center.

Because the Lakers improved to 5-1, Bradley’s mood remained upbeat even after the team said he would be listed as day-to-day following X-rays that showed nothing more than bruising.

He left the game with 6 minutes 14 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter after Spurs guard Dejounte Murray unintentionally kicked him.

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“Dejounte was driving to the basket and just kicked me hard,” Bradley said. “It’s really sore. It swelled up a little bit, but I’ll be good.”

LeBron James had 21 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds and continued to lead the way on defense as the Lakers beat the Spurs 103-96 for a fifth straight win.

The Lakers are off Monday before they visit the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night.

Bradley will get treatment on his injured leg and see where things stand.

“I’ll be doing everything I can do so I can be ready for the next game,” he said.

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The Lakers’ 19-point lead in the third quarter had been whittled to six points, the momentum suddenly shifting to the Spurs.

When the Lakers returned from a timeout with 3:33 left in the third, a play had been designed for Bradley.

He curled around a screen and connected on a 20-foot jumper off a pass from Anthony Davis, helping to restore order for the Lakers.

“Avery Bradley was great offensively during the stretch when we were struggling,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.

In the fourth quarter, Bradley came off a screen set by Dwight Howard.

As Bradley got into the teeth of the defense, the Spurs collapsed on him, which allowed the 6-foot-2 guard to throw a lob pass to Howard for a rousing dunk.

A few moments later during a break in the action, Howard walked over and hugged Bradley.

“I just told him, ‘Thank you,’ ” Howard said. “When you’re on the court, you want to do whatever you can to help your teammate. I tried to get him open [with screens], and I get him open and I was able to get myself open. When you play for each other, good things happen.”

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Bradley’s night ended sooner than he wanted, but he played his role as a lock-down defender and had provided offense as well.

“I’m just playing basketball,” Bradley said. “But I know one role I have for sure is out there competing on the defensive end every night, and I’m going to do that the entire game. That’s my role on this team. We’ve got two of the best players in the game in LeBron [James] and A.D., and it’s my job to make sure I’m doing my job every night for those guys. And that’s my mind-set, being ready to shoot to make their job easier when they pass for opportunities and defending the best guy or whoever is going every single night and taking that challenge.”


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