LOS ANGELES, May 14 (Ticker) -- 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.

Bryant scored 26 points and again starred down the stretch and the Lakers dispatched the sputtering Spurs in five games with a 93-87 victory.

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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 1 of the conference finals Saturday.

"We're one of the only teams that have won on their court," Lakers superstar center Shaquille O'Neal said. "We just have to play our game. We're not going to play back and forth. They have something to prove. We don't."

Shaq packed it in on Tim Duncan, got the MVP in foul trouble, and the Spurs in big trouble.
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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.

"Same kind of game, same result," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "It's disappointing for us, but the Lakers played like champions the last four or five minutes of every game we played."

"We expect to win every game," Bryant said. "(If the) game is close in the fourth quarter, we expect to win. We play to win. Some teams play to lose. The team definitely had a little swagger about ourselves and a little more confidence about ourselves."

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.

"In the fourth quarter Kobe came up big for us with some shots and obviously made a big pass to finish it," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

The play was similar to the one that ended the first-round series against Portland. In both instances, Horry took a pass from a driving Bryant and hit a shot from the right corner.

O'Neal had 21 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks for two-time defending champion Los Angeles, which 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.

"I thought we really had a chance at this series," Duncan said. "The Lakers proved to be more than we could handle. Again, we had a (heck) of a run at it. We had opportunities to win games and make it a different series, but that's just the way the ball rolls sometimes."

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.

"Tonight I would've liked to have gotten more done and really help Tim," said Spurs center David Robinson, who was scoreless in 18 foul-plagued minutes. "Tim was like Superman out there; he was doing everything. But I'll tell you what -- those guys are good. They make all the plays when they need to."

Daniels scored 15 points and Parker added 14 for the Spurs, who matched the Lakers for six straight scores until Bryant took charge. Their 26 fourth-quarter points were more than 10 above their average for the first four games.

"You can definitely see the experience that they have and the cohesivenessas a unit because they've been through this ... and we haven't," Daniels admitted.

"The playoffs always tend to kind of show your weaknesses," Robinson said. "Whatever it is, it'll come out, it'll be glaring. For us, although we were a really good defensive team, sometimes we have a little struggle at the end (of the game). When they have a Kobe Bryant, that's kind of a nice luxury."

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.

Fox scored 17 points for the Lakers, who shot 45 percent (35-of-78) and committed just 11 turnovers. Malik Rose scored 11 points and Bruce Bowen 10 for the Spurs, who shot 44 percent (31-of-71) but gave it away 16 times.

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.

"We had a hard time making shots in the first half and then we had a little rally at the end of the second quarter and came into the locker room feeling a little better about ourselves," Jackson said.

Baskets by Parker and Duncan opened the second half before LA rattled off 10 straight points to tie it. A jumper by Bryant gave the Lakers a 62-61 lead entering the final period.