LOS ANGELES, May 15 (Ticker) -- Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant and the 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.

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After losing the first two, Karl Malone and the Lakers wrested the series from the Spurs.
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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 superstars.

"It was quite an accomplishment for us to beat, for four consecutive games, a very good basketball club," Lakers coach Phil Jackson 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 and even 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 to play.

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 Tony Parker 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 championship ring.

"What we did was make adjustments on defense and focused more on Tim Duncan 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 break.

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.