(Reuters) - Kobe Bryant was a frustrated television viewer and a passionate tweeter as he watched the Los Angeles Lakers lose 91-79 to the Spurs in their first-round playoff opener in San Antonio on Sunday.
Sidelined for the rest of the season after having surgery on an injured Achilles tendon, five-time NBA champion Bryant kept urging on the Lakers big men, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol, to make the most of their inside presence.
Though Howard finished with a game-high 20 points and 15 rebounds and Spaniard Gasol with 16 points and 16 rebounds, the Lakers fell short after out-rebounding the Spurs by a narrow 44-43 margin.
“Post. Post. Post,” Bryant tweeted during the game. “Gotta milk pau in the post right now and d12. Will get good looks from it.”
Earlier, Bryant had tweeted: “What I would say if I was there right now? ”Pau get ur on the block and don’t move till u get it“ #realtalk.”
Lakers head coach Mike D‘Antoni, when asked by reporters for his views on Bryant’s pleas via Twitter for a greater inside presence, replied: “Yeah, that’s what we did. It’s great to have that commentary.”
Point guard Tony Parker and his backup Manu Ginobili each scored 18 points for the Spurs who never trailed after going 4-2 up early in the opening quarter.
The seventh-seeded Lakers gave their fans a glimmer of hope when they cut the lead to four in the third quarter after Gasol’s turnaround jumper made it 54-50 with 4:49 left.
However Ginobili scored the Spurs’ final eight points of that quarter to put San Antonio ahead 70-57 and the home team maintained control the rest of the way to draw first blood in the best-of-seven series.
“Nothing worse than watching your bothers struggle and u can’t do crap about it #realtalk,” Bryant tweeted.
“On to game 2. I will be watching from the crib again in a pau jersey and laker face paint ha! All jk aside We will be fine on wed.”
The second-seeded Spurs, who have clinched four NBA titles and ended the regular season second best in the West with a 58-24 record, again host the Lakers on Wednesday before the series switches to Los Angeles for Game Three on Friday.
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Gene Cherry