L.A.'s Dwight Howard grabs the Spurs' Tim Duncan going for a rebound. "It was a very physical game," Duncan says.


SAN ANTONIO - Manu Ginobili cautioned against expecting too much in his second game back from a hamstring injury.

All he did is help the San Antonio Spurs end a three-game skid and win their playoff opener Sunday over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Ginobili and Tony Parker scored 18 points each as the Spurs led from early in the first quarter and beat the Lakers 91-79.

"It was great to have Manu back," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He does what he does. He makes big shots. He creates problems for the opponent and he's got a great will, a great desire. I'll worry all night about how he'll feel in the morning. If he says he feels great, then that will be a good sign for our team."

In his 11th season, Ginobili has battled leg injuries all season and was playing for the second time following a nine-game absence due to a strained right hamstring. He looked like his old self, going 6 for 13 from the field and 3 for 5 on threes in 19 minutes.

"I feel good," Ginobili said. "I'm very happy that I played the whole game, that I didn't get hurt and that I scored a little bit."

Tim Duncan added 17 points and 10 rebounds for San Antonio.

Dwight Howard had 20 points and 15 rebounds, Steve Nash scored 16 points and Pau Gasol added 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Lakers.

Despite the double-doubles from Howard and Gasol, the Lakers failed to take full advantage of their inside presence, much to the consternation of the injured Kobe Bryant, who watched the national broadcast.

"Post. Post. Post," Bryant, sidelined with a torn Achilles, tweeted in reference to the Lakers' offense.

"Yeah, that's what we did," a sarcastic L.A. coach Mike D'Antoni said when asked about the tweet. "It's great to have that commentary." (He said later he wasn't upset with Bryant's tweets).

L.A.'s height caused San Antonio problems early as the Spurs missed their first three shots - all inside the paint - as they altered shots to avoid Howard and Gasol.

Nash, who returned after missing nine games with a hip/hamstring injury, gave the Lakers their only lead with a jumper on the game's opening possession.

Duncan broke the drought, hitting a pair of jumpers over Gasol that gave San Antonio a 4-2 lead with 9:33 remaining and the Spurs led the rest of the way.

"It was a very physical game," Duncan said. "It was a good start to our playoff run. We shook off a lot of cobwebs we've had over the past 10 games or so."

L.A. shot 35 percent from the field in the first half and could not consistently work the ball inside.

"It was the first game," Howard said. "We can't get discouraged."


• Bulls at Nets: 5 p.m. on TNT. Nets lead series 1-0

• Grizzlies at Clippers: 7:30 p.m. on TNT. Clippers lead series 1-0