L.A. Lakers 88, San Antonio 76
LOS ANGELES, May 15 (Ticker) -- Shaquille O'Neal
, Kobe Bryant
Los Angeles Lakers don't forget anniversaries.
Exactly one year after being dethroned as NBA champions, the
Lakers got their revenge with a convincing 88-76 victory over
the San Antonio Spurs, whose title reign is over.
NBA TV highlights from|
After losing the first two, Karl Malone and the Lakers wrested the series from the Spurs.
Harry How/Getty Images/NBAE
After losing the first two games of the Western Conference
semifinals, the Lakers stormed back to win four in a row,
becoming just the eighth team to climb out of an 0-2 hole and
win a best-of-seven series.
"For us to do what we have done for four consecutive games
against them, there's a lot to be said for that," Bryant said.
"It requires a lot of focus, a lot of execution and
determination on our part, and we're able to beat them."
The perennial powerhouses were meeting in the postseason for the
fifth time in six years. Last year, the Spurs barely held on
to win Game 5, then delivered a 110-82 knockout blow on May
15 at the STAPLES Center, a loss that ended L.A.'s three-year
reign and reduced several Lakers to tears.
This year, the Lakers turned the tears to cheers. Derek Fisher
's miraculous shot won Game 5 on Thursday, then Los
Angeles put the clincher in the hands of O'Neal and Bryant, its
"It was quite an accomplishment for us to beat, for four
consecutive games, a very good basketball club," Lakers coach
said. "The Spurs are a great opponent."
O'Neal had 17 points, 19 rebounds and five blocks. He dominated
on the defensive end, helped slow down Tim Duncan
foiled some late "Hack-a-Shaq" tactics by the Spurs.
"I didn't take a lot of shots so I could save my energy for
defense," O'Neal said.
Bryant was quiet early but scored 16 of his 26 points in the
fourth quarter, when the Lakers turned back a last stand by the
Spurs. He added seven rebounds and seven assists and provided
the exclamation point with a soaring dunk over Duncan with 1:52
After a devastating loss, the Spurs valiantly tried to defend
their title, briefly taking the lead early in the fourth
quarter. But they simply did not make enough shots, shooting 30
percent (26-of-86) from the field, including a horrific 3-of-24
from the arc.
"That was really our demise in this series," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
said. "We just had a very difficult time shooting the
basketball and tonight it was the same thing. It is just not
enough to hack it playing against a team as good as the Lakers."
"Having Shaq back there as a safety net if you do get by (your
man) really causes a lot of problems," Duncan said.
Duncan had 20 points and 11 rebounds but made just 7-of-18 shots
as he repeatedly was challenged by Karl Malone
. Point guard
scored nine points on 4-of-18 shooting as he was
shackled by Gary Payton
. Malone and
Payton signed with the Lakers last summer in hopes of winning a
"What we did was make adjustments on defense and focused more on
and Tony Parker
," Payton said.
"I was not even thinking about scoring a lot," Malone said. "I
came into this series defensive-minded."
Seeking their 15th NBA title, the second-seeded Lakers await the
winner of the series between Minnesota and Sacramento.
Minnesota holds a 3-2 lead and would have home-court advantage
vs. Los Angeles.
"They've (Lakers) got four guys that will be in the Hall of
Fame," Duncan said. "They're playing very well and I would
expect them to win."
After being outscored in the third quarter for the sixth
straight game, the Spurs turned a five-point deficit into a
58-57 lead with 10:53 left on a 3-pointer and three-point play
by Devin Brown
, who scored 15 points.
Bryant sank two free throws and Fisher drilled a 3-pointer,
giving the Lakers the lead for good. As the Spurs struggled,
Bryant had a layup, jumper and two free throws to push the
margin to 73-66 with 5:03 to go.
Following his fifth block, O'Neal sank two free throws. But he
missed two, a layup by Manu Ginobili
made it 76-70 with 3:11 to
play and San Antonio began intentionally fouling O'Neal. The
big man foiled the strategy by making 3-of-4 from the line.
"Our game is never to foul Shaq. We're not into that," Duncan
said. "Toward the end there we did, of course we did, three or
four times there at the end. He made some of them."
Bryant's dunk did in the Spurs, who had to work too hard to
score. They had 21 second-chance points but none on the fast
Payton had 15 points and seven assists and Malone scored 10
points for the Lakers, who shot 45 percent (29-of-65). Ginobili
scored 16 points and Robert Horry
-- who left the Lakers for the
Spurs last summer -- added 12.
A choppy first half saw Duncan and O'Neal pick up two fouls in
the first quarter and the teams battle to a 39-39 tie. Two
hoops by Bryant made it 50-44 and a 3-pointer by Kareem Rush
extended it to 56-49 late in the third period.