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Playoffs 2003 Conference Semifinals, Lakers vs. Spurs

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NBA Playoffs 2003 Conference Semifinals
Los Angeles Lakers 2 vs. San Antonio Spurs 4

Game 1: Spurs 87 - Lakers 82 at S.A. Game recap & pictures
Game 2: Spurs 114
- Lakers 95 at S.A. Game recap & pictures
Game 3: Lakers 110
- Spurs 95 at L.A. Game recap & pictures
Game 4: Lakers 99
- Spurs 95 at L.A. Game recap & pictures
Game 5: Spurs 96
- Lakers 94 at S.A. Game recap & pictures
Game 6: Spurs 110
- Lakers 82 at L.A. Game recap & pictures

GAME 1:  Spurs 87 - Lakers 82

Spurs won first battle.

click for Lakers Playoff pictures, (Kobe Bryant, Manu Ginobili) SBC CENTER - SAN ANTONIO. Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 37 points including 13 in the fourth quarter and Shaquille O'Neal had 24 points and 21 rebounds before he fouled out with more than three minutes remaining, but the Lakers shot 39.5% from the field and rarely went to the free-throw line (just 3 times in the final quarter) and now are down a game in this series after losing game 1 of the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals to the San Antonio Spurs 87-82.
Named NBA MVP for the second consecutive season Tim Duncan received his trophy before the game and collected 28 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists for the Spurs, while rookie Manu Ginobili had 15 points, including key 3-pointers and a pair of steals in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers lost forward Devean George to a sprained ankle along the way, for an unknown period. George was replacing Rick Fox, who will be out of the courts at least six months.
Ginobili, a 6-foot-4 rookie guard, made three three-point shots in the second half when he scored 14 of his 15 points, to go along with his six rebounds and four steals as the Spur reserves outscored the Laker bench, 28-4.
O'Neal had 10 points and eight rebounds by the end of the first quarter. But the Lakers failed to score 20 points in any of the first three quarters while the reserves did not scored a point.
The Spurs ended the first half leading 38-35 on a buzzer-beating 40-footer by Kevin Willis.
San Antonio extended the lead to as many as 11 points late in the third quarter when Ginobili hit his second 3-pointer of the period with 1:52 left.
When O'Neal fouled out with 3:26 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Lakers had been without George for 8 minutes. O'Neal fouled out for the eighth time in 131 playoff games.
Derek Fisher started the final burst for Los Angeles with a 3-pointer before Bryant hit his two 3-pointers from almost the same spot on the right wing to cut the deficit to 85-82 with 1:08 left. But Kobe couldn't score on the next two possessions stepping out of bounds on the first and missing a 3-pointer on the next. The scoring ended with a free throw by Tony Parker after a technical foul against Horry and a free throw by Robinson with 9.9 seconds left.

The Quotes

Phil Jackson (LA Coach): "I mean, that's ridiculous in a ballgame this hotly contested. Tim Duncan had more (free throws) than my whole ball team. I know it was an MVP night for him, but that's ridiculous."
Kobe Bryant (LA): "We had our chances. We played poorly. It's just a challenge. That's all it is. I don't feel like, 'Poor Lakers, we lost another player.'
Gregg Popovich (SA Coach): "I can't figure him out, to be honest with you," said of Ginobili. "I don't know what to expect — I'm being totally honest — what he's going to do out there. As everyone knows, he was a big-time player in Europe, he won European championships, he always had the ball in his hands. Here he doesn't always have the ball".

Highlights

Kobe Bryant (LA) 37 pts
Shaquille O'Neal (LA) 24 pts 21 reb 4 bl
Derek Fisher (LA) 10 pts / Robert Horry (LAL) 14 reb
Tim Duncan (SA) 28 pts 8 reb 7 assist
Manu Ginobili (SA) 15 pts 6 reb 4 steal
David Robinson (SA) 14 pts 11 reb
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GAME 2:  Spurs 114 - Lakers 95

This is becoming an odd experience for the Lakers.

click for Lakers Playoff pictures, (Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant) SBC CENTER - SAN ANTONIO. Strange things are happening to the Lakers and their championship defense attempt. Things so weird as that Ginobili baseline jumper that bounce twice on top of the backboard and then went through the net for a 12-point lead. And that was before O'Neal had to abort a free throw when a fan came onto the court, holding a poster of a bikini-clad Carmen Electra. Not to mention that Bruce Bowen with his 7.1 points average forgot he was on the court just to apply his excellent defense to Kobe Bryant, and broke a franchise playoff record with his seven 3-pointers.
This way the San Antonio defeated the three-time defending champion 114-95 and the Lakers return to L.A. trailing 0-2 in the best-of-seven conference semifinals.
For the first time since the 1999 conference semifinals the Lakers trail 0-2. They eventually were swept by the Spurs, and the collapse cost Kurt Rambis his job and opened the door for Phil Jackson's arrival.
Brian Shaw replaced injured Devean George in the lineup and Bryant slid over from shooting guard to small forward. But Shaw failed to make an impact with six points on 3-of-9 shooting. He picked up two fouls in the first seven minutes and was overmatched by San Antonio new rising star, Argentine rookie Emanuel "Manu" Ginobili.
Manu came off the bench early, made his first four shots and had 10 points in his first six minutes on the court helping the Spurs build a 13-point lead in the first period. They led by 17 at the half, went ahead by 33 in the third quarter and led by 27 entering the fourth.
So poor was the Lakers' defense that league MVP Tim Duncan was outscored by four of his teammates. He finished with 12 points, behind Bowen (27 points), rookie Manu Ginobili (17), Tony Parker (16) and Speedy Claxton (13).
Bryant and O'Neal scored 27 points apiece, but Bryant suffered to get his points and was blocked 3 times by Bowen, and O'Neal played through constant foul trouble, including 3 offensive fouls.
San Antonio dominance made instant changes to the Lakers plans. Kareem Rush entered the game with three minutes left in the first quarter, and fellows rookie Jannero Pargo and Slava Medvedenko joined him to start the second quarter, and the lineup suddenly was dominated by players who couldn't break the rotation two weeks ago.
The next two games are at Staples Center.

The Quotes

Phil Jackson (LA Coach): "That, was a royal kick in the butt." "There's no margin for error, but we're not afraid of it. We're not apprehensive that we can't go back and win two games on our home court.'
Shaquille O'Neal (LA): "We're in a dangerous spot, there's no time for panic. ... We control our own destiny.''

Highlights

O'Neal (LA) 27 pts 10 reb
Bryant (LA) 27 pts 6 reb
Jannero Pargo (LA) 13 pts
Kareem Rush (LA) 10 pts
Duncan (SA) 12 pts 13 reb 7 assist
Bowen (SA) 27 pts / Ginobili (SA) 17 pts
Parker (SA) 16 pts 4 assist
Claxton (SA) 15 pts / Jackson (SA) 10 pts
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GAME 3:  Lakers 110 - Spurs 95

Kobe, Shaq, Derek, Robert, Devean and Jack (Nicholson)

click for Lakers Playoff pictures, (Kobe Bryant) STAPLES CENTER - LOS ANGELES. The Lakers still believe they can be the second team to win four consecutive championships, and to keep the dream alive they defeated the San Antonio Spurs 110-95 to cut the Spurs' lead to 2-1 in the best-of-seven second-round series.
After severely spraining his left ankle in Game 1 and missing Game 2, Devean George was able to play and opened the game with consecutive jumpers and buried a three-pointer with 5:20 remaining as the Lakers jumped out to a 19-4 lead. He scored 9 points in the first 9 minutes and finished with a career playoff-high 13 points.
San Antonio bounced back and pulled within 36-30 on a jumper by Stephen Jackson in the second quarter but with the extra energy provided by Mark Madsen and Jack Nicholson, Los Angeles closed the first half with a 14-6 run to make it 50-36 at the break.
Actor and Laker fan Jack Nicholson gave his own show. With 4:47 left in the half Nicholson was standing in front of his courtside seat, screaming and gesturing angrily at referee Mark Wunderlich with the crowd urging him on.
Bryant displayed his usual offensive brilliance, scoring 9 points in the third quarter and 10 in the first 1:36 of the fourth quarter to extend an 81-67 lead to 91-69. Kobe collected 39 points.
Shaquille O'Neal fell just shy of a triple-double with 21 points, 16 rebounds and 8 assists as the Lakers beat the Spurs for the first time this season.
Robert Horry collected 13 points and 12 rebounds as the Lakers held a 46-36 advantage on the glass.
San Antonio's Tim Duncan had 28 points and 11 assists but got little help as the rest of the Spurs starters combined for just 18 points on 6-of-30 shooting.
Rookie Manu Ginobili, a key factor in the first two games, had 8 points, no rebounds and no assists in 21 minutes.
Bowen had 27 points in Game 2, when he made 7 of 8 three-pointers, but scored just 3 points in Game 3, missing 6 of 7 shots.
The Lakers now will try to become the eighth team to rally to win a series after losing the first two games, the last being the Houston Rockets in 1995 against Phoenix.

The Quotes

Kobe Bryant (LA): "Willis Reed-like,'' Kobe said when asked about George's effort. "Devean came in and played extremely well with a lot of heart. Hopefully this can be a turning point in his career from a confidence standpoint.''
O'Neal (LA): "Thank Jack for supporting us. He's a big basketball fan, he was good for us tonight.''
Jack Nicholson: "I pay a lot of money for this seat, this is the NBA, you can't tell me to sit down.''
Kobe Bryant (LA): "I just saw 'Anger Management,' I thought I was watching it again."

Highlights

Bryant (LA) 39 pts 4 reb 4 assist
O'Neal (LA) 21 pts 16 reb 8 assist 3 block
Fisher (LA) 14 pts / George (LA) 13 pts
Horry (LA) 13 pts 12 reb 3 block
Duncan (SA) 28 pts 11 reb
Rose (SA) 15 pts 3 steal
Jackson (SA) 9 pts 6 reb
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GAME 4:  Lakers 99 - Spurs 95

Lakers have heart.

click for Lakers Playoff pictures, (Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan) STAPLES CENTER. LOS ANGELES. With coach Phil Jackson watching the game at home after undergoing a successful two-hour angioplasty which opened a blocked descending artery in his heart, the Lakers showed they have a strong heart, fought off a 16 point deficit and won 99-95.
Jim Cleamons, a longtime assistant under Jackson, stood in front of the bench as the Lakers had deficits of 16 points in the second quarter, 10 in the third and 2 in the final 90 seconds.
Bryant led the Lakers with 35 points, shooting 10-of-24 from the floor and 14-for-17 from the foul line. Kobe had a key steal when he picked off an inbound pass by Tony Parker with 14.2 seconds left and the Lakers leading 98-95.
O'Neal had 29 points, 17 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocked shots. He was great from the free throw line, making 17 of 23. Shaq became the seventh-leading scorer in playoff history midway through the third quarter, passing former Houston star Hakeem Olajuwon. O'Neal entered trailing Olajuwon by 14 points and John Havlicek by 35.
The Spurs lead by 43-27 with just under 4 minutes left in the first half. But Duncan went to the bench after committing a third foul with 3:27 left - 7 seconds before, Bryant also was whistled for a third foul - and the Lakers outscored the Spurs 12-3 to finish the half, making it 46-39.
The Lakers trailed by 64-55 with 3:10 to play in the third quarter before closing the period on a 16-3 run to make it 71-67. Bryant had six points, Fisher four, and Devean George and Shaw made 3-pointers, with Shaw burying his from 30 feet as the period ended. Neither team led by more than four points in the fourth quarter.
Stephen Jackson's 3-pointer with 1:31 remaining gave the Spurs a 95-93 lead, but the Spurs wouldn't score again wasting their possessions while Shaq made two free throws and Kobe four.
Duncan shot 10-for-17 from the field in scoring 36 points, made 16 of 20 free throws and got 9 rebounds and 5 assists.
Derek Fisher added 17 points for the Lakers. Stephen Jackson had 15 points and a playoff career high 10 rebounds and Parker scored 14 for the Spurs. San Antonio's David Robinson fouled out with 7:13 left with no points and three rebounds. He played only 14 minutes.
Doctors didn't allow Jackson to coach the game and his status for the rest of the series will be determined today. It was the first playoff game Jackson had missed in his 13-year coaching career.

The Quotes

Devean George (LA) "We were thinking about Phil, it's always different without your leader. But we knew we still had a job to do.'
Tim Duncan (SA) "Defensively I thought we were pretty solid, (but) 45 free throws ... there is not much you can do about that when they get 20 more free throws than you."

Highlights

Bryant (LA) 35 pts 7 reb
O'Neal (LA) 29 pts 17 reb (10 off.) 5 assist 4 block
Fisher (LA) 17 pts 3 steal
George (LA) 9 pts (3/4 3pts)
Duncan (SA) 36 pts 9 reb 5 assist
Jackson (SA) 15 pts 10 reb
Parker (SA) 14 pts 4 assist
Ginobili (SA) 13 pts 4 assist
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GAME 5:  Spurs 96 - Lakers 94

Spurs breath in the last second.

click for Lakers Playoff pictures, (Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan) SBC CENTER - SAN ANTONIO. Open from behind the 3-point line in the closing seconds, Robert Horry shot what looked like another of his incredible game-winning shots, but the ball rattled in-and-out just before the buzzer, killing a remarkable rally from a 25-point deficit and giving the Lakers a 96-94 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson returned 3 days after undergoing an angioplasty, to see his team play lethargically for three quarters.
Now the Lakers must win the next two games. This is the same situation the Lakers lived 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. In four years under Jackson, the Lakers have played 4 playoff games in which they could have been eliminated, and won all of them.
The Lakers looked really bad for the better part of three quarters. They trailed 56-38 at halftime, 78-53 late in the third quarter and by 16 points with 7:21 to play in the fourth, but over the final 14:37, the Lakers outscored the Spurs, 41-18.
Kobe Bryant scored 36 points, including 2 three pointers to close the third period and 13 points (3 three pointers) in the fourth quarter. Bryant got some help from Slava Medvedenko who scored seven of his 13 points in the fourth quarter
O'Neal had 20 points and 12 rebounds but Jackson was not happy with his defense and energy and sat him on the bench for half of the fourth quarter.
Devean George had two points and one rebound in 25 minutes. Derek Fisher finished with 8 points 5 rebounds and 5 assists but played only 32 minutes, partly because he suffered a sprained ankle and a dislocated pinkie in the second quarter.
An alley oop from Duncan to Robinson, who had six points after going scoreless in Game 4, restored a 7-point lead. Then Kobe Bryant drilled a three-pointer with 0:49 to play, Shaquille O'Neal had a three-point play and Stephen Jackson split a pair of free throws for the Spurs with 15 seconds to go, leaving his team with a two-point lead.
Kobe rose for what looked to be a shot from the left corner but passed to an open Robert Horry, who holds the NBA playoff mark for three-pointers in a game without a miss and saved the Lakers last year with a buzzer-beating three-pointer in Game 4 against Sacramento, one of the great shots in NBA postseason history.
But Horry missed all six of his three-pointers in this game and he is 0-of-15 from the arc in this series and a awful 2-of-35 in the 2003 playoffs.
Tim Duncan led San Antonio with 27 points and 14 rebounds, and Tony Parker had 21 points, but they were as cold as all their teammates when it really mattered.
Game 6 is Thursday night in Los Angeles, with a possible Game 7 in San Antonio on Saturday.

The Quotes

Gregg Popovich (SA Coach): "If we ever figure out how to stop anybody in the fourth quarter or score against anybody in the fourth quarter, we're going to be dangerous."
Kobe Bryant (LA): "We're a tough team to put out. It has something to do with luck, something to do with our grit, our fight. Game 6, we're going to give it our all.'' "Robert (Horry) has made so many before tonight. If he has another opportunity in the next game, I'll give it to him again.''
David Robinson (SA): "When he shot it, I was thinking about the Sacramento shot. I was thinking, `Please don't go in.'''
One fan held a sign that read "Phil, whining about the refs is bad for your heart.''

Highlights

Bryant (LA) 36 pts 7 reb 6 assist
O'Neal (LA) 20 pts 12 reb 3 block
Medvedenko (LA) 13 pts
Fisher (LA) 8 pts 5 reb 5 assist
Horry (LA) 6 pts 7 assist
Duncan (SA) 27 pts 14 reb 5 assist
Parker (SA) 21 pts / Bowen (SA) 12 pts
Jackson (SA) 12 pts 3 steal
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GAME 6:  Spurs 110 - Lakers 82

There won't be a fourth championship
(at least not until next year).

click for Lakers Playoff pictures, (Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal) STAPLES CENTER - LOS ANGELES. With the Lakers down by 25 points with 2:26 left, the crowd rose for an ovation, showing their gratefulness for the 3 consecutive championships and one of the most successful streaks in NBA history.
There won't be four consecutive championships, at least not this time. But this won't be the end of the story, the Lakers will be back stronger next season to start it all over again.
The Spurs finally did what they needed to win, and that was leaving Manu Ginobili on the court in the final quarter. He is the only Spur with enough character to play in the crucial moments. Without his key plays this series would have been completely different.
Duncan collected 37 points and 16 rebounds leading the Spurs to a 110-82 victory. San Antonio never trailed after the game's first minute and scored 44 of the game's final 62 points.
Tony Parker added 27 points for the Spurs, the last team other than Los Angeles to win an NBA title.
San Antonio led by only two points with 4:43 left in the third quarter, but the MVP Tim Duncan scored 8 points in a 10-0 run that made it 76-64. Duncan finished 16-for-25 from the field.
A basket by Manu Ginobili made it 84-70 with 10:07 remaining. Then Manu's 3-pointer with 8:09 to play made it 91-74, and the Laker championship defense was through.
O'Neal finished with 31 points and 10 rebounds and Bryant scored 20 points but as usual they did not get enough help from the rest of the team.
Kobe Bryant didn't take the loss well. He and Derek Fisher left the court in tears. But this was just the coronation of a season that went from bad to worse.
They lost home-court advantage during the regular season, mostly because Shaq waited until Sept. 11 to have foot surgery that caused him to miss training camp and the first 12 regular-season games. He also required more time to get in good shape to be competitive, and the result was an 11-19 start that complicated the entire season.
Then the Lakers lost Rick Fox, one of their best defenders, with a serious injury in the first round of the playoffs. They lost Devean George in the series opener against San Antonio and Phil Jackson had to watch game 3 at home after undergoing heart procedure to opened a blocked artery.
Finally the unavoidable happened. Owner Jerry Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak thought that having two of the best basketball players was enough to win but with O'Neal struggling with his foot and knee aching and carrying too much weight, Kobe clearly tired from carrying the team much of the season, and a roster gradually eroded over three years, the Lakers faced a team that was clearly better and all the efforts did nothing but extend the agony.
The good news are the Lakers will make some adjustments and come back with an improved roster. The available market suggests that making the appropriate decisions they will be stronger and faster.
O'Neal and Bryant are under contract for 2003-2004 season, as are Rick Fox, Devean George, Derek Fisher, Slava Medvedenko and Kareem Rush.
Brian Shaw, Mark Madsen, Samaki Walker and Tracy Murray will be free agents.
The Lakers hold a $5.3 million option for the 32-year-old Horry and an option for Jannero Pargo, as well.
Also they have played 71 playoff games under Jackson over the last 3 years, almost the equivalent of a full season, so they'll have more time to rest this summer.
This was the end of a record run of 25 consecutive series wins for Jackson (13 with the Lakers). For the first time since 1995 he ended a season without a championship.
Jackson is the most successful coach in NBA history, having won a record 162 postseason games and coached 9 championship teams in 13 years (the first six titles with the Chicago Bulls). His nine titles are tied for the most in NBA history with former Boston coach Red Auerbach
The Lakers won't join the Boston Celtics as the only NBA teams to win more than three straight championships. The Celtics won eight straight from 1959-66.

The Quotes

Shaquille O'Neal (LA): "We thank you for your support. And we apologize.", asked for a message for the fans.
Kobe Bryant (LA) : "It's a foreign feeling. I don't like the feeling. I don't think anybody else likes the feeling I don't ever want to feel it again."
Phil Jackson (LA Coach): "I thought, it was the most difficult season I had as a basketball coach."
Shaquille O'Neal (LA): "The last three years, we only had 45 days off before we had to get back to work, so now the guys who are injured, including myself, can take some extra days to get healthy and in better shape. "..."We'll regroup, get some free agents, get some new guys, get some new blood and then hopefully start a new run next year."
Derek Fisher (LA): "Some people have said that the dynasty is over, but there's still a lot of time left in this decade."

Highlights

O'Neal (LA) 31 pts 10 reb 3 block
Bryant (LA) 20 pts 6 assist
Medvedenko (LA) 12 pts
Duncan (SA) 37 pts 16 reb
Parker (SA) 27 pts 5 assist
Ginobili (SA) 10 pts 5 reb 4 assist 3 steal 26 min
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