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Duncan leads Spurs’ rout, pushing Lakers to brink

LOS ANGELES – Tim Duncan had 26 points and nine rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs pushed the Los Angeles Lakers to the brink of first-round playoff elimination with a 120-89 victory in Game 3 on Friday night, the worst home playoff loss in franchise history.

Tony Parker had 20 points and seven assists as the Spurs methodically seized control of the series by dominating their third straight meeting with the short-handed Lakers, who played without their top four guards due to injury.

Dwight Howard had 25 points and 11 rebounds, and Pau Gasol added his first career playoff triple-double with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, but the Spurs were far too much for a team without Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash. Andrew Goudelock scored a career-high 20 points in his first playoff start.

The Spurs can close it out in Game 4 on Sunday night.

The Lakers exceeded their 29-point home loss to Portland on May 22, 2000, the previous worst home defeat for the 16-time NBA champion franchise. Staples Center’s lower bowl was half empty in the final minutes, an unfamiliar sight in an arena used to celebrating championships.

The Lakers haven’t lost in the first round of the postseason since 2007, but they appear unable to contend with the tested, veteran Spurs. San Antonio led throughout the final 44 minutes, going up by 18 in the first half and 25 early in the fourth quarter with their smooth, flexible offense.

Tiago Splitter limped to the Spurs’ locker room late in the third quarter with a sprained left ankle, but not much else went poorly for San Antonio while silencing the Lakers’ enthusiastic crowd.

With Bryant and Nash joined by Jodie Meeks and Steve Blake on the injured list, the Lakers started Goudelock and Darius Morris, using a starting five that had never started together for the second time in three games. Morris added 24 points, getting 12 in the fourth quarter of the historic blowout.

After finishing the regular season with a loss at Staples Center among their seven defeats in their final 10 games, the Spurs took control of the series with two methodical wins in San Antonio. Nash was largely ineffective after missing the final eight regular-season games, and the Spurs’ veteran chemistry was more than enough to finish off the Lakers.

The first half of Game 3 had the same theme. San Antonio jumped to an 18-point lead late in the second quarter with steady offense from 10 scorers, while the Lakers had an understandable lack of chemistry.

The Lakers’ tumultuous season appears to be drawing to a merciful end, since they’re nearly out of healthy players after beginning the season with a star-studded roster and championship aspirations.

Nine of the Lakers’ 15 players were on their injury report for Game 3, and Metta World Peace played despite getting fluid drained from a cyst behind his surgically repaired left knee.

Bryant attended the game, hobbling through the Lakers’ locker room before the game with crutches and a large walking boot on his immobilized ankle, but didn’t join Nash, Blake and Meeks watching in suits at courtside.

The Lakers were forced to rely on Goudelock, their second-round draft pick from two years ago who spent this season in the D-League until Los Angeles signed him 12 days ago, and Morris, another second-year pro who rarely left the Lakers’ bench this season.

Goudelock, the MVP of the NBA’s D-League this season, put up plenty of points with ample opportunity to shoot, but Parker largely matched him while Duncan thoroughly outplayed Howard and Gasol down low with his timeless game as the Spurs pulled away.

Goudelock started slowly, but scored 10 points in a 2:25 burst late in the second quarter to trim San Antonio’s halftime lead to 55-44.

NOTES: Gasol is the seventh player to post a playoff triple-double in Lakers history. ... F Boris Diaw, the Spurs’ only player with a significant injury, is running on a treadmill and shooting in his comeback from the removal of a cyst from his spine. He’s likely to play 2-on-2 with contact next week. ... World Peace ran with obvious discomfort in his knee. Before the game, he considered sitting out, but didn’t feel he could miss a game with the Lakers’ injury woes. ... Ashton Kutcher, David Arquette, Jon Heder and “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner watched from courtside.

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