L.A. Lakers 105, San Antonio 81
LOS ANGELES, May 9 (Ticker) --
A return to the STAPLES Center was exactly what the Los Angeles Lakers needed.
scored 28 points on 11-of-13 shooting, grabbed
15 rebounds and blocked eight shots and Kobe Bryant
six and six assists as the Lakers routed the Spurs, 105-81, to pull within 2-1 in their Western Conference Semifinal series.
The loss ended the Spurs' 17-game winning streak and was their first since March 23.
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Shaquille O'Neal tallied 28 points and 15 boards in Game 3.
Andrew D. Bernstein
"Los Angeles really dismantled us tonight," Spurs coach Gregg
Popovich said. "They did a great job, they were very aggressive
from the get-go, executed well, had a lot of players play well and drubbed us."
"It's nice to have that kind of margin because now it can be a
factor," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who avoided his first
career three-game playoff losing streak. "But I think more than
anything else, they know they've won a ton of games in a row
and there's liable to be a letdown at some point."
The Lakers lost the first two games of the best-of-seven series
by 10 points each and were burned by quicksilver Spurs point
guard Tony Parker
, who totaled 50 points. In this one, Los
Angeles -- particularly disgruntled point guard Gary Payton
limited Parker to eight points on 4-of-12 shooting.
"Today we made a conscious effort to focus on him," Payton said.
"Anytime he moved to the basket we collided on him, and it
made a big difference when everybody is jumping at you."
"They played physical, but the team that's playing more
aggressive wins," Parker said. "And L.A. did both today, physical
The Lakers also had great success against Tim Duncan
the MVP runner-up to two points in the first half as it built a
double-digit lead. He finished with 10 on 4-of-14 shooting.
"I thought they played a very good game," Duncan said. "Guys
were really stepping back into the lane and trying to get me to
get rid of the ball. I thought they had a good defensive scheme
and they executed well."
O'Neal scored 10 points and Bryant nine in the first quarter to
help the Lakers take a 28-16 lead. Karl Malone
points and kept Duncan scoreless in the period, which saw the
Lakers shoot 63 percent (12-of-19) and the Spurs 29 percent (6-of-21).
"We knew what we had to do today," O'Neal said. "It felt good
to be back in our own city for some time. Phil told us to come
out and play with a lot of passion and we are at home. This is
our building, our city and we just want to take care of our home-court advantage."
"I think we set the tempo and the sense of urgency we needed to
play the game with tonight," Bryant added.
The Lakers had a 42-32 halftime advantage, then broke open the
contest in the third quarter, taking a 68-45 lead with 2:38 left
on a layup and free throw by Payton.
San Antonio pulled within 75-63 on a pair of free throws by
Duncan -- his only attempts of the game -- with 9:57 remaining,
but Los Angeles countered with a 10-0 run over the next 2½ minutes to put away the game.
The Lakers attempted 40 free throws, making 25, while the Spurs
were 12-of-22 from the line.
Payton collected 15 points and seven assists and Malone added 13
points, six rebounds and five assists for the Lakers, who shot
57 percent (37-of-65) and limited the Spurs to 34 percent
Game 4 is Tuesday at Los Angeles.
"I think everybody came here to see what Laker team was going to
show up, how hard we were going to play," Bryant said. "And
they got an answer."