San Antonio 96, L.A. Lakers 94
Spurs Withstand L.A. Rally,
Take 3-2 Lead
SAN ANTONIO, May 13 (Ticker) -- Robert Horry
missed a three-pointer he
always makes, and the Los Angeles Lakers lost a game they never
should have had a chance to win.
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Horry's potential winning three-pointer rattled in-and-out just
before the buzzer, killing a remarkable rally from a 25-point
deficit and dealing the Lakers a 96-94 loss to the San Antonio
Spurs that has the three-time defending champions on the brink
"It ruined a great comeback," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
The fifth-seeded Lakers trail the Western Conference semifinals,
3-2, and are in what is becoming a familiar position. In last
year's conference finals against Sacramento, Los Angeles lost
Game 5 on the road before winning Game 6 at home and Game
7 on the road.
The Lakers looked awful for the better part of three quarters.
They trailed, 78-53, late in the third period and by 16 points
in the fourth quarter before beginning a comeback that was
helped along by a serious case of jitters by the top-seeded
San Antonio still seemed safe when David Robinson
tipped home a
lob pass for a 95-88 lead with 1:38 remaining. But Kobe Bryant
drilled a three-pointer, Shaquille O'Neal
had a three-point play and
split a pair of free throws with 15 seconds to go, leaving the Spurs with a two-point lead.
From the left corner, Bryant rose for what looked to be a shot
but passed to an open Horry, who has made a career of draining
clutch three-pointers. He holds the NBA playoff mark for three-pointers
in a game without a miss and saved the Lakers' season last year
with a buzzer-beating three-pointer in Game 4 against
Sacramento, one of the great shots in postseason history.
But the present has not been kind to Horry. With Tony Parker
flying at him, his shot from the left wing rattled
inside the rim but popped out into the hands of Robinson, who
passed to Parker to extinguish the clock -- and allow the Spurs a
"I am supposed to be known for that kind of shot," Horry said.
"I thought it was on the money. I wanted the ball. I did
everything right. I got my feet set, it just did not fall."
"It looked good from where I was standing," Bryant said. "He
had perfect arc on the ball, good rotation. It looked like it
was going down and then it came back up."
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich felt the same way.
"It would be something like a great gulp and a lowering of the
heart organ to the belly, that sort of thing," he said. "That's
his shot; we've seen it before."
"I was just hoping that it doesn't go in," said Spurs forward
, who dropped into the paint and left Horry on the perimeter. "That's all I was thinking."
Horry missed all six of his three-pointers. He is 0-of-15 from the
arc in this series and a frigid 2-of-35 in the postseason.
"In a situation like that, I never doubt myself," Horry said.
Throughout the postseason, there have been signs the Lakers may
not have enough to become just the second team in NBA history to
win four straight titles. Forward Rick Fox
season-ending injury in the first round and Jackson underwent an
angioplasty that forced him to miss Game 4. Now, the
normally reliable Horry is not coming through.
"That game put a lot of stress on coach," Horry said.
"Hopefully, next time out we can (get) up 25 and take some of
the stress off him."
Duncan had 27 points, 14 rebounds and five assists for the
Spurs, who are one win away from reaching the conference finals
for the third time in five years.
The Lakers again were led by the 1-2 punch of Bryant, who scored
36 points, and O'Neal, who added 20 and 12 rebounds. They
remained winless in five visits to the SBC Center, where they
will have to win Game 7 to keep their season alive.
Game 6 is Thursday at Los Angeles.
"Just win. Win at all costs," Bryant said. "That's it."
The Spurs never trailed but didn't exactly finish with a
flourish. Bryant made two three-pointers to close the third quarter
and cut the deficit to 80-64. With O'Neal on the bench to
start the final period, Bryant got some help from Slava
A jumper by Medvedenko, who scored seven of his 13 points in the
fourth quarter, made it 88-79 with 5:12 remaining. Jackson
leaked out for a hoop, but O'Neal made a pair from the line,
Bryant made a three-pointer and rookie Jannero Pargo
pulled up for a
jumper that made it 90-86 with 3:29 left.
Parker drove for a basket and Bryant had a shot blocked by Bruce
, who hit 1-of-2 from the line with 2:03 to play.
"If we ever figure out how to stop someone in the fourth quarter
or score in the fourth quarter, we'll be dangerous," Popovich
Parker scored 21 points and Jackson and Bowen added 12 apiece
for the Spurs, who shot 48 percent (38-of-79) from the field.
The trio did most of its damage in the first half, when San
Antonio looked unstoppable.
Parker scored 10 points in the first quarter as the Spurs
sprinted to a 29-18 lead. A pair of baskets by Duncan and
three-pointers by Bowen and rookie Manu Ginobili
keyed a 14-4 burst
that widened the advantage to 43-22 early in the second period.
"(Parker) did a great job of getting us that lead early and
putting us in the position to jump out of the gates," Robinson
"It was nice to see him back from vacation," Duncan added.
The Lakers trailed, 56-38, at halftime, and things didn't get
much better until late in the third quarter. L.A. got no closer
than 16 points and fell behind, 78-53, on two free throws by
Duncan with 2:36 left.
The Lakers shot 47 percent (38-of-81).