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1: Lakers 86 - Spurs 80
toughness of the champions
LOS ANGELES. Bloodied and bruised, Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant
showed the toughness of champions.
The leaders of the
Los Angeles Lakers played through injuries and rallied their team
to a gritty 86-80 victory over the San Antonio Spurs, who wasted
a great chance to steal Game One of their Western Conference semifinal
The Spurs may be
wondering if they ever are going to beat the Lakers. They allowed
just 13 points in the first quarter, limited Los Angeles to 39
percent shooting, led for nearly all of the opening three periods
-- and still lost to Los Angeles for the eighth time in the last
That slide includes
last year's conference finals, when the Lakers swept the Spurs
en route to their second straight championship.
O'Neal wore a pair
of gold wristbands, with the right one protecting four stitches
he needed following a "household incident" earlier Sunday.
His problems were compounded early in the third quarter, when
he gashed his right index finger on the rim and missed nearly
a period, taking another three stitches.
As O'Neal returned
in the fourth quarter, Bryant headed to the locker room after
banging his right knee on the previous possession. He returned
wearing a wrap around the knee with 4:36 to go as O'Neal made
two free throws, giving the Lakers the lead for good at 73-71.
After Derek Fisher
made a 3-pointer to widen the margin to five points, O'Neal and
Bryant made all the big plays down the stretch. San Antonio's
Steve Smith drilled a 3-pointer, but O'Neal answered with a baby
hook for a 78-74 edge with 2 1/2 minutes left.
A struggling Tim
Duncan and Malik Rose made jumpers around a free throw by O'Neal,
cutting the deficit to one point with 1:13 to play. Just
10 seconds later, O'Neal hammered home a lob from Robert Horry.
The Spurs had a chance
to tie, but Bruce Bowen missed a wide-open 3-pointer. On the next
possession, a hobbling Bryant worked his way into the lane and
stopped short for the clinching jumper with 24 seconds left.
O'Neal had 23 points
and 17 rebounds, overcoming 9-of-22 shooting. Bryant scored 20
points despite making a Shaq-like 4-of-10 free throws.
Game Two of the best-of-seven
series is Tuesday at Los Angeles.
Fisher (LAL): "Fortunately
for us, our monster has two heads."
Bryant (LAL): "We've been waiting all year to get to
this point, if you can walk you belong out there."
O'Neal (LAL) 23 pts 17 reb 4 block
Kobe Bryant (LAL) 20 pts 4 assist
Samaki Walker (LAL) 12 pts 9 reb
Tim Duncan (SAS) 26 pts 21reb
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2: Lakers 85 - Spurs 88
to get serious
LOS ANGELES. The Los Angeles Lakers played poorly again. This
time, Tim Duncan and his San Antonio Spurs did not let them get
away with it.
The loss ended the
Lakers' amazing 18-game postseason winning streak against Western
Conference opponents dating to the 2000 playoffs, an 18-game tear
at the Staples Center dating to February 19 and a five-game head-to-head
playoff streak against San Antonio.
The Lakers' aura
of playoff invincibility is gone. After two weeks of incessant
chipping, it was knocked to pieces. It wasn't Sacramento or Dallas,
but Tim Duncan and a bunch of guys we couldn't spot on the street.
While the Laker magic
made it close and whittled a 21-point deficit to 85-84 on a pair
of free throws by Derek Fisher with 91 seconds remaining, some
of that recent Laker lack of focus made it feel like a blowout.
With the Lakers trailing
by two points and the crowd roaring, O'Neal stole the ball from
Duncan on the wing, Bryant raced down the court and, at what appeared
to be an indecisive moment, Bryant lost the ball, landed, then
batted it toward teammate Derek Fisher. The violation was called
with 1.3 seconds left, and then Duncan made a free throw with
But Bryant was spectacular
for most of the game -- the loss wasn't about him. It was about
the Lakers being outscored, 41-14, during one stretch of the first
half. That's focus. It was about the Spurs getting seven offensive
rebounds in the fourth quarter while the Lakers had zero. It was
about a continuation of the problems that plagued this team during
its first championship run two years ago.
Throughout the game,
the supporting players seemed lost or out of sync. The lower point
occurred with 3:10 left in the second quarter, when players and
coaches from the Spurs' bench stood up, and four of the Spurs
walked toward the sidelines, and everyone on both teams assumed
they were calling timeout. But they weren't calling timeout. They
were calling the biggest decoy play since Dan Marino faked that
spike against the New York Jets. With everyone but one person
just standing around, that one person-- Antonio Daniels --drove
the lane and scored on a layup and was fouled by a stunned Samaki
Walker, who was also standing around.
The Spurs trailed,
21-15, before closing the first quarter with a 9-0 run, and they
extended the advantage to 56-35 on a 3-pointer by Antonio Daniels
with 29 seconds left in the first half and took a 16-point lead
into the locker room.
Los Angeles closed
to 59-55 on a dunk by O'Neal with
6:28 left in the third quarter before Duncan answered with a layup
and free throw, helping the Spurs increase their lead to 73-65
entering the final period.
Duncan made it 82-69
on a hook shot with 8:48 to play before the Lakers started their
Daniels scored 14
points, Bowen 13 and Rose 9 and 11 rebounds for the Spurs, who
shot 46 percent (34-of-74) after connecting at just 32 percent
in Game One.
Bryant had 26 points
and O'Neal 19 for the Lakers, who shot 45 percent (34-of-75) en
route to just their second defeat in the last 22 playoff games.
Plagued by foul trouble throughout, O'Neal did not speak with
the media after the contest.
Jackson (LAL): "The
false timeout made us dispirited, made us look like a bunch
of rookies out there"
Bryant (LAL): "It's always more fun to sweep, but going
through a challenge builds character."
26 pts 6 assist 3 steals
Shaq 19 pts 7 reb 5 assist
Duncan 27 pts 17 reb 5 assist 5 blocks
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3: Lakers 99 - Spurs 89
is what you were waiting for
SAN ANTONIO. The Lakers are the Lakers again. Kobe Bryant is the
genius everybody wants to see, again.
The Lakers closed
out a 99-89 victory in an exciting, dramatic, contentious, well-played
Game 3. Finally you got a solid 48-minute effort from the champions,
with defensive stops, execution on offense, hustle, spirit.
All it took were
a few shaky outings, a defeat at home and the prospect of falling
behind in this series at the noisy, charged-up Alamodome.
Powered by O'Neal
they dominated the points in the paint category, 60-46. They outrebounded
the Spurs, 48-34. They were patient and poised. They were everything
they hadn't been for two weeks.
But with the Lakers'
season on the line, and facing their first must-win game since
losing the opener in last year's NBA Finals, it was Bryant's brilliance
-- especially in the fourth quarter -- that helped the Lakers
to a 99-89 win over the Spurs.
Kobe scored 31 points,
going a perfect 5-for-5 from the field in the fourth quarter,
when he scored 11. There used to be a time that 31 shot attempts
by Bryant would cause eyes to roll on the Lakers' bench; Friday
night, it seemed every shot he took was necessary in what resulted
in a nearly flawless game. Bryant also had six rebounds, six assists
and just one turnover.
Kobe takes a special
pleasure in coming into a building full of Laker-haters and leaving
them muttering. Specially here and Sacramento. He scored 73 points
in the two playoff games at the Alamodome last year, and 84 at
the two playoff games in Arco Arena.
run began with a gorgeous alley-oop layup with 4:52 left off a
pass from Rick Fox for an 83-80 lead. After Fox dunked off a turnover
by Tim Duncan, Bryant scored three of the
Lakers' next four baskets on jumpers as Los Angeles went ahead
scored 22 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, while Derek Fisher had
13 points and Samaki Walker 12 for Los Angeles. Rick Fox scored
eight of his 10 points in the final quarter.
In his first game
after being named the NBA's Most Valuable Player, Duncan struggled
through a 9-for-26 shooting performance. He led the Spurs with
28 points and 12 rebounds.
The Lakers have now
won 10 straight playoff games on the road. Game 4 is at the Alamodome
Note: In their game
3, the Pistons and Celtics shattered the record for fewest
points in a playoff game (since the shot clock's inception)
by 12 points in Boston's 66-64 win.
Fox (LAL): "A
big mistake a lot of teams make is going on the road hoping to
get a split, we wanted to come in here, play hard and hopefully
get every game here."
Bryant (LAL): "We heard a lot of reports that we were
going to lose (Game 3), I love the fact we can come in here and
silence 35,000 fans."
(LAL) 31 pts 6 assist 6 rebounds
Shaq (LAL) 22 pts 15 rebounds
Derek Fisher (LAL) 13 pts
Duncan (SAS) 28 pts (9/26) 12 reb
Tony Parker (SAS) 24 pts
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4: Lakers 87 - Spurs 85
SAN ANTONIO. The San Antonio Spurs would be glad to have someone
who can make big shots at the end of playoff games. Let's say
someone like... Kobe Bryant.
For the second straight
game, the Lakers shut down the Spurs and stunned a huge Alamodome
crowd. With a 87-85 win, the two-time defending champions opened
a commanding 3-1 lead in their Western Conference semifinal series
and can wrap it up with a win at home Tuesday.
As he was in the
fourth quarter on Friday, Kobe was phenomenal. And San Antonio's
offense disappeared down the stretch once again.
The Spurs did not
make a field goal after Bruce Bowen hit a 3-pointer with 6:56
left. Tim Duncan made a pair of free throws to make it 84-74 with
6:15 left. San Antonio then came up empty on six straight trips
down the floor, while the Lakers worked their way back from the
foul line, making five of six in the span of 51 seconds.
Bryant then hit consecutive
3-pointers, sandwiched around a free throw by Duncan, to tie the
game at 85 with 2:05 remaining. Both teams fell short in their
next two possessions, and Duncan was called for an offensive foul
with 46 seconds remaining.
Robert Horry missed
a 3-pointer with 29 seconds left, and O'Neal got the rebound.
Bryant isolated Bowen on a clear-out play, but then dribbled the
ball off his own foot. Derek Fisher retrieved the ball at midcourt,
drove and missed with a 12-footer. Bryant came running down the
lane and reached high for the rebound, then flipped a one-handed
shot over Tim Duncan for the winning basket.
San Antonio had a
chance to tie, but Terry Porter slipped after receiving the inbounds
pass. He shoveled the ball to Duncan, whose shot was short and
Duncan grabbed his
jersey and covered his head with it immediately after the final
buzzer sounded. It was as though he was
hiding in embarrassment -- and he and his teammates had every
reason to feel that way.
Kobe scored 12 of
his 28 points in the final period. Shaquille O'Neal added 22 points
and 11 rebounds.
Duncan led all scorers
with 30 points, but only three of them came in the fourth quarter.
Tony Parker added 15 and David Robinson 12. Duncan and Robinson
each had 11 boards.
The Spurs had been
held to less than 20 points in the fourth quarter in each of the
first three games before scoring 10 today.
(LAL) 28 pts 7 rebounds
Shaq (LAL) 22 pts 11 rebounds 5 assist 3 blocks
Robert Horry (LAL) 13 pts 9 rebounds
Duncan (SAS) 30 pts 11 reb 3 blocks
Robinson (SAS) 12 pts 11 reb
5: Lakers 93 - Spurs 87
again, Kobe starred the fourth quarter
ANGELES - The Los Angeles Lakers used a familiar formula to get
back to the Western Conference finals: Kobe Bryant making shots
in the fourth quarter and the San Antonio Spurs missing them.
Kobe scored 10 of
his 26 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Lakers to a 93-87
victory over San Antonio on Thursday night, enabling them to win
the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series in five
Lakers eliminated the second-seeded Spurs from the playoffs for
the second straight year and advanced to an anticipated showdown
with the top-seeded Sacramento Kings, who host Game One of the
conference finals Saturday.
The Lakers have an
attitude that juts out in the air. They shake off deficits, breeze
through pressure, then lean on the game's most clutch player,
Game Five followed
a similar script as the previous four. Led by Tim Duncan, the
Spurs maintained control into the fourth quarter, when their offense
stalled and Bryant took charge. The superstar guard scored 46
points in the final periods of the series, including 10 on Tuesday.
Bryant scored on
consecutive possessions to give the Lakers control. He penetrated
for a spin move that gave LA an 83-81 lead with 2:57 remaining.
After a layup by Antonio Daniels gave San Antonio the seventh
and last tie of the quarter, Bryant drove for a bank shot to give
the Lakers the lead for good with 2:22 to go.
Duncan, who had 34
points and franchise playoff-record 25 rebounds, missed inside,
leading to a driving layup by Rick Fox with 1:27 left. San Antonio's
Tony Parker missed a 3-pointer, and Bryant drew the defense before
passing to Robert Horry for a 3-pointer that sealed it with 56
ailing with assorted injuries, had 21 points, 11 rebounds and
all six of his blocked shots in the second half and Rick Fox added
17 points and seven assists.
The Lakers' starting
backcourt of Bryant and Derek Fisher had no turnovers.
Los Angeles Lakers
has won 23 of its last 25 playoff games. During that stretch,
the Lakers are 8-1 against the Spurs, beating them every way imaginable.
In last year's sweep
in the conference finals, LA humiliated San Antonio, winning by
an average of 22 points. This year, the wins came by an average
of six points, with all of them decided in crunch time.
Once again, Duncan
was phenomenal. The NBA Most Valuable Player made 11-of-23 shots
and 12-of-14 free throws, adding
four assists and two blocks. And once again, he did not have enough
Again, the Spurs
started well. Rose scored seven points in a 15-4 run that gave
San Antonio a 28-15 lead with 10:50 left in the second quarter.
Four free throws
by Duncan kept the lead at 45-33 with 2:14 remaining in the first
half before the Lakers scored the final six points.
Baskets by Parker
and Duncan opened the second half before LA rattled off 10 straight
points to tie it.
Bryant had consecutive
baskets to give LA a 66-65 lead, but Parker had three-point plays
around a follow shot by Devean George, giving San Antonio a 71-68
advantage with 7:59 remaining.
Baskets by O'Neal
and Fox made it 72-71 with 6:58 to go, and the Lakers never trailed
again, although the Spurs tied it six times. Duncan had just one
more basket, a three-point play that tied it, 75-75, with 5:41
The Lakers shot 45
percent (35-of-78) and committed just 11 turnovers. The Spurs
shot 44 percent (31-of-71) but gave it away 16 times.
The Lakers outscored
the Spurs 31-26 in the fourth quarter, and 125-88 in the final
periods in the series after being outscored by 16 points in the
opening three quarters.
Duncan (SAS): "I
thought we really had a chance at this series, the Lakers proved
to be more than we could handle."
Robinson (SAS): "At the end (of the game) they have Kobe
Bryant, that's kind of a nice luxury."
(LAL) 26 pts 8 rebounds 5 assist
Shaq (LAL) 21 pts 11 rebounds 6 blocks
Rick Fox (LAL) 17 pts 7 assist
Duncan (SAS) 34 pts 24 reb 3 blocks
Robinson (SAS) 18 min 0 pts 3 reb