| LOS ANGELES
LOS ANGELES It could have been a perfect Cinderella story for guard Andrew Goudelock on his first NBA start for the Los Angeles Lakers, and he certainly did his part with an electrifying performance during the first half.
By the time it was all over, though, the injury-depleted Lakers had been crushed 120-89 by the San Antonio Spurs in Friday's Game Three at the Staples Center to trail 0-3 in their best-of-seven first-round playoff series.
Goudelock, who only two weeks ago was playing in the NBA's development league, finished with 20 points on eight-of-17 shooting but he expressed bitter-sweet feelings after the Lakers had slipped to their heaviest ever home playoff defeat.
"I felt good about how I played individually but I never like to lose like that," the 24-year-old Goudelock told Reuters while sitting in front of his locker after his team had been outshot by a staggering 61 percent to 43 from the field.
"That was just embarrassing. When you lose like that on national television in the playoffs in that type of fashion where it's not even a game, it definitely takes away from what I did personally.
"But it's part of the game. It happens like that sometimes and we've got a new type of team. I think I showed a little bit of something I can do and, moving forward, maybe it will give me a little more confidence."
Goudelock, who re-signed with the Lakers just two weeks ago after five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant suffered a season-ending Achilles tendon injury, only knew he was in the starting lineup shortly before Friday's tip-off.
Injuries had left the Lakers without their top four guards in Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks and Goudelock suddenly found himself front and center in the high intensity of playoff action after being plucked from relative obscurity.
Having been presented with the NBA development league's most valuable player trophy for the 2012-13 season moments before the start of Game Three, Goudelock thrilled Lakers fans as he scored 14 points in the first half.
SPARKED THE FANS
He poured in back-to-back three-pointers midway through the second quarter to spark chants of "MVP, MVP, MVP!" from the home crowd and helped his team finish a 14-7 run to trim the deficit to 55-44 by halftime.
"That felt good," the six-foot three-inch (1.92 metres) guard from College of Charleston said of his form against the second-seeded Spurs, especially during the opening half.
"That's something I have dreamed about for a long time, to do that in a Lakers uniform on national television.
"It's the most minutes I have played and the most points I have scored. It definitely felt good, and especially with my parents here. I haven't seen them in about a year."
Against the Spurs, however, the Lakers ran into a razor-sharp shooting team where All-Stars Tim Duncan, with a game-high 26 points, and Tony Parker, with 20, barely missed.
"They got a lot of easy shots, easy opportunities," said Goudelock, who was nicknamed "Mini-Mamba" for his own scoring exploits last season despite played sparingly for the Lakers in 40 games.
"We worked really hard but they got a lot of wide open shots, layups. They got basically whatever they wanted, and we didn't do anything to stop them from being so comfortable.
"You're not going to win like that in the playoffs. In the first half, I think we did a pretty good job but then it just got away from us."
No NBA team has ever come back from a 0-3 deficit to win a playoff series but Goudelock described Lakers team morale as "okay" as they prepare for Sunday's Game Four, also at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.
"It's tough but the spirit is still up," Goudelock said. "It's never over. You never give up until it's over so we still have something to play for. We just have to make some adjustments and we'll be okay on Sunday." (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by Gene Cherry)