Ginobili, Finley Lift Spurs Past Lakers
San Antonio 103, L.A. Lakers 96
LOS ANGELES, March 6 (Ticker) -- The San Antonio Spurs have shown of late that they can win without Manu Ginobili's best effort. They're also not too bad when he is on his game.
Ginobili emerged from a shooting slump to score 12 of his 21 points in the third quarter as the Spurs ran their winning streak to seven games with a 103-96 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
The 2005 All-Star was slightly better in the first half Monday, shooting 3-of-6 and scoring nine points to help the Spurs stay within 45-43. But once the second half began, Ginobili truly found his stroke in the game's decisive surge.
"We made a ton of threes in the second half and that helped stake a lead," Ginobili said. "Then we maintained it for a big part of the game. But (Lakers guard Kobe Bryant) got hot and we got a little worried but we did a good job of finding the open man."
Ginobili's first 3-pointer of the second half gave San Antonio the lead for good at 48-47. Bruce Bowen added another moments later to make it 53-49 and Ginobili buried three from the arc in a span of a minute, capping a 14-0 run that put the Spurs ahead, 64-49, with seven minutes left in the third period.
"I am glad I made some shots because in the last five or six games I couldn't get it going," Ginobili said. "I think the slump just happened. I am in one of those parts of the season where I am not playing as well or confidently. But a game like tonight can help."
"It looked like he had a bit more rhythm tonight," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "He didn't just predicate his game on driving the basketball. He stopped and shot his threes, which he can do very well, and that will open him up for other things. I thought he played a good all-around game."
What Ginobili started, Michael Finley finished. Finley made his first 3-pointer late in the period to make it 79-62 and hit two in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter to give San Antonio its largest lead at 87-69.
Ginobili credited his hot-shooting counterpart and point guard Tony Parker, who consistently penetrated without a problem, for their fine play in the second half.
"Down the stretch Tony Parker and Finley were just incredible," Ginobili said. "When things were getting hot with Kobe's threes, they really stepped up and knocked down shots. That was huge for us."
Bryant, who scored 43 points, rallied the Lakers back in the same fashion by hitting three 3-pointers and another long jumper that appeared to be behind the arc. His flurry made it 100-90 with 2:32 left.
Despite a wealth of late looks for himself, Bryant gave credit to the Spurs for spacing the floor and moving the basketball.
"That is experience and age," Kobe said of the Spurs. "They are veterans and knowing what they need to do within their system to maximize the whole. They have guys who are extremely talented."
Keeping with the theme, Finley answered Bryant's burst with his fifth 3-pointer. He scored 21 points and helped seal the Spurs' seventh straight win in the series.
Ginobili and Finley each made 5-of-6 3-pointers as San Antonio shot 12-of-23 from long range. Parker did not take a 3-pointer but was 10-of-18 inside the arc to also net 21 points with eight assists.
Tim Duncan scored 12 of his 18 points in the first half for the Spurs but left with 5:45 remaining and did not return after Los Angeles point guard Smush Parker poked him in the eye.
Duncan has a red right eye and is cautiously optimistic he will be fine.
"It is going to be a little red and painful for awhile," Duncan said. "I didn't see it, no pun intended. It was an accident. Smush Parker was reaching up for the ball and caught me in the eye. No problem with the vision right now."
Duncan admitted that his team is not in playoff shape yet.
"We're on our way but I don't believe we are in playoff shape yet," Duncan said. "We are not as solid as we need to be defensively. We are getting guys shooting well lately. We have times when we go into lapses but we are going to use these last 20 games to get in playoff condition."
Bryant made 17-of-32 shots, including an off-balance runner from a tough angle to finish the third quarter. However, just one other Laker scored in double figures as Lamar Odom had 13.
Los Angeles failed to complete a sweep of two games against last season's NBA Finals opponents. It posted a 105-94 victory over Detroit on Saturday.