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Playoffs 2002 Conference Semifinals - Lakers vs. Spurs

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Conference Semifinals
Los Angeles Lakers 4 vs. San Antonio Spurs 1

Game. 1: San Antonio 80, LA Lakers 86at L.A.L. Game recap & pictures
Game 2: San Antonio 88, L.A.Lakers 85 at L.A.L. Game recap & pictures
Game 3: L.A.Lakers 99, San Antonio 89 at S.A. Game recap & pictures
Game 4: L.A.Lakers 87, San Antonio 85 at S.A. Game recap & pictures
Game 5: San Antonio 87, L.A. Lakers 93 at L.A.L. Game recap & pictures


GAME 1:  Lakers 86 - Spurs 80

The toughness of the champions

Playoff picture, click to enlarge 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 series.

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 nine meetings.

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.

The Quotes

Derek Fisher (LAL): "Fortunately for us, our monster has two heads."

Kobe Bryant (LAL): "We've been waiting all year to get to this point, if you can walk you belong out there."

Highlights

Shaquille 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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GAME 2:  Lakers 85 - Spurs 88

Time to get serious

Playoff picture, click to enlarge 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 two-tenths remaining.

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 late push.

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.

The Quotes

Phil Jackson (LAL): "The false timeout made us dispirited, made us look like a bunch of rookies out there"

Kobe Bryant (LAL): "It's always more fun to sweep, but going through a challenge builds character."

Highlights

Kobe 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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GAME 3:  Lakers 99 - Spurs 89

This is what you were waiting for

Playoff picture, click to enlarge 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.

His game-clinching 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 92-82.

Shaquille O'Neal 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 on Sunday.

 

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.

The Quotes

Rick 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."

Kobe 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."

Highlights

Kobe (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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GAME 4:  Lakers 87 - Spurs 85

Some fourth-quarter magic

Playoff picture, click to enlarge 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 too late.

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.

Highlights

Kobe (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

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GAME 5:  Lakers 93 - Spurs 87

Once again, Kobe starred the fourth quarter

Playoff picture, click to enlargeLOS 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 games.

The third-seeded 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, Kobe Bryant.

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 seconds remaining.

Shaquille O'Neal, 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 help.

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 to play.

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.

The Quotes

Tim Duncan (SAS): "I thought we really had a chance at this series, the Lakers proved to be more than we could handle."

David Robinson (SAS): "At the end (of the game) they have Kobe Bryant, that's kind of a nice luxury."

Highlights

Kobe (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

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