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NBA Playoffs 2004, Western Conference Semifinals - Lakers vs. Spurs

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NBA Playoffs 2004 Conference Semifinals
Los Angeles Lakers 4 vs. San Antonio Spurs 2

Game 1: Spurs 88 - Lakers 78 at S.A. Game recap & pictures
Game 2: Spurs 95 - Lakers 85 at S.A. Game recap & pictures
Game 3: Lakers 105 - Spurs 81 at L.A. Game recap & pictures
Game 4: Lakers 98 - Spurs 90 at L.A. Game recap & pictures
Game 5: Lakers 74 - Spurs 73 at S.A. Game recap & pictures
Game 6: Lakers 88 - Spurs 76 at L.A. Game recap & pictures

Back to Playoffs 2004

GAME 1:  Spurs 88 - Lakers 78

Fourth quarter "implosion" ?

Leaders: points rebounds assists
Lakers 31: Bryant 13: O'Neal 5: Malone
Spurs 30: Duncan 11: Duncan 9: Parker
  1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
LAL 14 19 32 13 78
SAS 21 20 21 26 88
click for Lakers Playoff pictures (LA Daily News), (Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant)
click for pictures
SBC CENTER - SAN ANTONIO. Is this what Phil Jackson was talking about when he mentioned "implosion" as a possibility? Let's hope this is not the case and the let's say they were just tired because they have no time to rest between series.
The Lakers, with 4 superstars on the court, had a 65-62 lead to begin the final period but disappeared, committed 10 turnovers and were outscored 26-13 by the Spurs.
Tim Duncan scored 12 of his 30 points in that period, including 6 straight in a decisive 10-0 run.
After a slow start where both teams combined to miss 14 of their first 20 shots, San Antonio took a 41-34 lead into halftime.
Then Kobe Bryant came out on fire in the third quarter, making shots from all angles as LA surged to a 56-50 lead, silencing the SBC Center crowd.
That was the highest-scoring quarter (32 points) of the playoffs for the Lakers. Kobe scored 12 of his 31 points in that quarter but he could not make a field goal in the final 11 minutes of the game.
Gary Payton had an ugly game with 4 points and 3 assists in 38 minutes and could never contain Tony Parker, who repeatedly got inside LA's defense creating offense for himself and his teammates. Karl Malone scored 10 points, including only one basket in the final period.
Shaquille O'Neal had good numbers with 19 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks, but he made just 3-of-13 free throws, falling to a miserable 16-of-57 in the postseason (.280)
The way he did it last year Manu Ginobili made a good contribution for the Spurs. He doesn't do it in big numbers but in the right moments when they need a steal, a 3-pointer or a dunk, the ball goes straight to his hands.
Despite the discourage this loss could bring, the Lakers showed they can defeat the Spurs and will make a great deal if they can win game 2 and take a tie to Los Angeles to play games 3 and 4.
The teams are meeting in the postseason for the fifth time in the last six years, with the series winner going on to win the championship each time. Game Two is Wednesday at San Antonio.
The Spurs have won 16 straight games since March 23.

The Quotes

Phil Jackson (LA coach):"We probably had 10 turnovers in this game simply trying to get the ball into (the post to Shaq), we were trying too hard to do something we weren't capable of doing today."
Karl Malone (LA): "I didn't bring it, the game I played is unacceptable."
Manu Ginobili (SA): "In the fourth quarter we realized our mistakes, we got more aggressive and they probably got a little tired."

Highlights

Kobe Bryant: 31 pts 10 reb
Shaquille O'Neal: 19 pts 13 reb 5 bl
Karl Malone: 10 pts 11 reb 5 ast
Gary Payton: 4 pts 3 ast
Tim Duncan (SA): 30 pts 11 reb 3 steal
Tony Parker (SA): 20 pts 9 ast 3 steal
Manu Ginobili (SA): 11 pts 6 reb
Rasho Nesterovic (SA): 10 pts 6 reb

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GAME 2:  Spurs 95 - Lakers 85

The same story

Leaders: points rebounds assists
Lakers 32: O'Neal 15: O'Neal 8: Bryant
Spurs 30: Parker 7: Duncan 6: Ginobili
  1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
LAL 17 28 23 17 85
SAS 33 28 12 22 95
click for Lakers Playoff pictures (LA Daily News), (Tony Parker, Gary Payton)
click for pictures
SBC CENTER - SAN ANTONIO. The Spurs won the first period 33-17 and that was the end of it. The Lakers climbed the mountain to cut the deficit to 2 points (80-78) in the fourth but that was all they had to offer.
Tony Parker had the control of the game and Payton only saw him past by, again. Parker scored 30 points, 16 of them in the first quarter and 8 in the fourth.
Shaq scored 32 points and took 15 rebounds but didn't get much help from his teammates. Kobe Bryant scored 15 points, only 4 in the first half and was contained by Bruce Bowen's suffocating defense.
Tim Duncan scored 24 points and was accurate from the free throw line and Manu Ginobili came off the bench to add 15 points 5 rebounds, 6 assists and a lot of energy.
Tony Parker started the game decided to score and he did it. He scored 16 points to launch his team to a 33-17 fist quarter lead that was maintained to a 61-45 half-time lead. The lakers made a big effort after that to slowly reduce the deficit to two points in the middle of the fourth, but the Spurs used a 9-3 run (including a stunning crossover move from Parker against Devean George) to end the Lakers aspirations and to push their playoff winning streak to six games and their overall streak to 17 games.
The Lakers are playing more and more clearly out of the traditional triangular offense, Phil Jackson's trademark, and they look as if they are not playing with a designed offense at all. They just try to give the ball inside to Shaq or to do a individual play.
Now the Spurs are leading the Western Conference Semifinals two games to none, and the Lakers are hopping not to repeat last year's experience when they were at this same time of the year playing against the same rival, in the same stage of the playoffs. Then they tied the series 2-2 but fell 4-2 after that. Now they hope to get different results for their efforts.
They desperately need to win the next two games at Staples Center and 4 of 5 games overall to avoid the catastrophe. Game 3 will be on Sunday afternoon.

The Quotes

Phil Jackson (LA coach): "We had some miscommunications, and that's my fault."
Karl Malone (LA): "I feel like this team can turn it around, I don't know how specifically."
Shaquille O'Neal (LA): "We just have to believe we can go out and play, we know we're a better team and we have to show it on Sunday."

Highlights

Shaquille O'Neal: 32 pts 15 reb
Kobe Bryant: 15 pts 5 reb 8 ast
Karl Malone: 13 pts 9 reb
Gary Payton: 7 pts 6 reb
Tim Duncan (SA): 24 pts 7 reb
Tony Parker (SA): 30 pts 5 ast 3 steal
Manu Ginobili (SA): 15 pts 5 reb 6 ast

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GAME 3:  Lakers 105 - Spurs 81

There is life in Los Angeles

Leaders: points rebounds assists
Lakers 28: O'Neal 15: O'Neal 7: Payton
Spurs 17: Ginobili 13: Duncan 5: Parker
  1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
LAL 28 14 33 30 105
SAS 16 16 26 23 81
click for Lakers Playoff pictures (LA Daily News), (Shaquille O'Neal)
click for pictures
STAPLES CENTER - LOS ANGELES. The Spurs had won their previous 17 games since March 23. But the Lakers shot 57 percent (37-of-65) at the Staples Center and limited the Spurs to 34 percent (29-of-85) to win 105-81.
Shaquille O'Neal scored 28 points on 11-of-13 shooting, grabbed 15 rebounds, gave 8 blocks and even knocked down 6 of 11 free throws. Kobe Bryant added 22 points (4 3-pointers), 6 rebounds and 6 assists.
Phil Jackson decided to crowd the lane and give up the 3-point shot. The strategy worked, and even though the Spurs shot 11-of-27 from 3-point range, the Lakers played like a team again and had great success against Tim Duncan and Parker, holding them to 10 and 8 points. Also Duncan an Parker combined for 9 turnovers.
In the first quarter the Lakers took a 28-16 lead. O'Neal scored 10 points, Bryant 9 and Karl Malone 6. The Mailman kept Duncan scoreless in the period and held him to 2 points in the first half.
The Lakers were ahead 42-32 by then and late in the third quarter outscored the Spurs 18-5 to take 68-45 lead.
San Antonio pulled within 75-63 on a pair of free throws by Duncan with 9:57 remaining, but the Lakers scored the next 10 points to clinch the victory and avoid Phil Jackson's first career three-game playoff losing streak.
Tony Parker totaled 50 points in the previous games but this time the defense was concentrated in his movements and he found Kobe Bryant was there to help every time he slipped past Gary Payton.
The Lakers found new life in Los Angeles and played almost perfect, giving each superstar his place, but they are still in a delicate situation and need to win next game to tie the series and start over.
Game 4 is Tuesday at the Staples Center.

The Quotes

Tony Parker (SA): "Every time I had the ball, everybody was aware, they did a good job tonight. The help came faster. Kobe came a little bit faster. Every time I penetrated, he came to help. He didn't give me anything easy."
Kobe Bryant (LA): "I think everybody came here to see what Laker team was going to show up, how hard we were going to play, and they got an answer."
Gregg Popovich (SA coach): "Los Angeles really dismantled us tonight,. 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."

Highlights

Shaquille O'Neal: 28 pts 15 reb 5 ast 8 bl
Kobe Bryant: 22 pts 6 reb 6ast
Gary Payton: 15 pts 7 ast
Karl Malone: 13 pts 6 reb 5 ast 3 st
Manu Ginobili (SA): 17 pts
Tim Duncan (SA): 10 pts 13 reb
Tony Parker (SA): 8 pts 5 ast
Devin Brown (SA): 16 pts 7 reb

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GAME 4:  Lakers 98 - Spurs 90

Kobe and Shaq keep the dream alive.

Leaders: points rebounds assists
Lakers 42: Bryant 14: O'Neal 6: Malone
Spurs 21: Ginobili 10: Duncan 8: Parker
  1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
LAL 21 22 31 24 98
SAS 27 26 16 21 90
click for Lakers Playoff pictures (LA Daily News), (Manu Ginobili, Kobe Bryant)
click for pictures
STAPLES CENTER - LOS ANGELES. For the fourth time this season Kobe Bryant spent the day in a Colorado courtroom before a game. Bad news for the Spurs: Kobe starred and his team won every time.
This game was special because the Lakers couldn't afford to lose again. Kobe scored 42 points and showed all his moves to lead the Lakers to a 98-90 victory.
Shaq was dominant for a second straight game and added 28 points, 14 in the third quarter when the Lakers took the lead for good. Shaq also made 8 of 11 free throws, almost a miracle these days.
Phil Jackson used the same strategy that worked in the previous game, sending all the players against Duncan and Parker, leaving the other Spurs free. But Hedo Turkoglu make him pay by scoring 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including three 3-point baskets and the Spurs won the first quarter 27-21.
In the second quarter Kobe started his show. With a couple of spectacular plays he scored 11 points. The Lakers cut the deficit to 1 point, 41-40 with 3 minutes remaining, but then the Spurs outscored them 12-3 for a 53-43 halftime lead.
As in the first three games, the Lakers dominated the third quarter, Shaq and Kobe combined for 23 points as their team took the lead for good.
Manu Ginobili kept the Spurs in the game with his 21 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. He set up Malik Rose for a dunk and made a layup, moving the Spurs within three points early in the fourth. But Kobe Bryant was too much for them. Bruce Bowen who has had some success defending him in the past, couldn't stop him and only played 23 minutes.
Bryant was brilliant handling the ball, spinning, flying and throwing in incredible shots from everywhere. He always had time to find Shaq in good situations to keep him happy and he scored 15 points in the last period, including 10 of his team's last 11 points.

The Quotes

Shaquille O'Neal (LA): "I don't see how he does it, he's a fabulous player, probably the best player that ever played the game. Especially with all the stuff he's been going through."
Gregg Popovich (SA coach): "Hats off to Kobe and Shaq, we just didn't have an answer for them. Kobe makes unbelievable shots but he's an unbelievable player."

Highlights

Kobe Bryant: 42 pts 6 reb 5 ast 3 st
Shaquille O'Neal: 28 pts (8-11 ft) 14 reb 4 bl
Karl Malone: 9 pts 7 reb 6 ast
Gary Payton: 8 pts 5 reb 5 ast
Manu Ginobili (SA): 21 pts 8 reb 5 ast
Tim Duncan (SA): 19 pts 10 reb 8 ast
Tony Parker (SA): 18 pts 8 ast
Hedo Turkoglu (SA): 16 pts 7 reb

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GAME 5:  Lakers 74 - Spurs 73

Fisher's moment of glory saved the Lakers

Leaders: points rebounds assists
Lakers 22: Bryant 12: Malone 7: Payton
Spurs 21: Duncan 21: Duncan 6: Parker
  1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
LAL 24 18 20 12 74
SAS 18 17 18 20 73
click for Lakers Playoff pictures (LA Daily News), (Derek Fisher)
click for pictures
SBC CENTER - SAN ANTONIO. He became a Laker the same year Kobe and Shaq did. He's been contributing defense and energy in the shadows of his superstar teammates and has been an important role player in the 3 championships the Lakers won. Silently, he has become the Laker with more 3-pointers made in the playoff history of the franchise. This season he was sent to the bench because of the stellar presence of Gary Payton, but suddenly Derek Fisher had his moment of glory...
After taking a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals, the Spurs have lost three in a row to the Lakers and have lived one of worst nights of their lives.
With only 4-tenths of a second left Tim Duncan had just made an incredible high-arching jump shot over Shaquille O'Neal to put the Spurs ahead by 1, 73-72.
The Lakers were about to repeat last year's history when they lost 2 games after tying the series. They lost Game 5 at San Antonio when Horry's 3-pointer at the buzzer rattled out, and they lost the series two days later.
This time everybody was convinced that Kobe Bryant was going to take that improbable final shot with almost no time to do it. He always does it and he had just done it 10 seconds earlier with a jump shot that put the Lakers ahead 72-71. But Kobe was doubled by the Spurs and Derek Fisher was the only one available to receive the ball.
He grabbed the ball about 18 feet from the hoop, turned around and shot over Manu Ginobili to make the most important basket of his career, beat the buzzer and win the game for the Lakers 74-73.
He ran off the court in celebration. Nobody could believe it. The stadium went silent. The officials reviewed the shot, but replays showed indisputably that it left Fisher's hands before the clock expired.
Kobe was fabulous for 3 quarters but he dehydrated (he needed two bags of intravenous fluid before leaving the SBC Center) and went out of breath and ideas in the fourth period and the team went with him. He finished with 22 points, five assists and five turnovers.
Devean George made an unexpected contribution with 16 points. He made three 3-pointers and a flying dunk in a 17-4 run that gave the Lakers their largest lead at 59-43 with 4 minutes left in the third period. But they scored only only 15 points the rest of the game. A 28-9 run put San Antonio up by three 71-68 with 2:14 left in the game.
Shaq added 11 points and 11 rebounds and played great defense on Duncan who made only 7 field goals. He finished with 21 points, 21 rebounds and four blocks, but also made 7 turnovers.
Tony Parker, who was controlled by the Lakers after been crucial in the first two games, had 9 of his 15 points during the fourth-quarter rally.
Derek Fisher had produced 6 points, a steal and 3 charging fouls against the Spurs -- a good night for him -- when the brightest moment of his career just happened.

The Quotes

Shaquille O'Neal (LA): "One lucky shot deserves another."
Gregg Popovich (SA coach): " That's the cruelest loss I've ever been involved with... Sometimes life is tough."
Tim Duncan (SA): "Unfortunate, incredible, there's not much you can say about it"
Derek Fisher (LA): "I've been waiting for an opportunity to get one just like that"
Karl Malone (LA): "I was looking around for somebody, but everybody was going crazy, there was nobody to hug, so then I look over and see Shaq. And he's just standing there looking at me like, 'What, that good?' ... In 17 years I've seen a lot, but this was unbelievable"

Highlights

Kobe Bryant: 22 pts 5 ast
Shaquille O'Neal: 11 pts 11 reb 3 bl
Devean George: 16 pts
Karl Malone: 7 pts 12 reb
Gary Payton: 5 pts 7 ast
Tim Duncan (SA): 21 pts 21 reb 4 bl
Tony Parker (SA): 15 pts 6 ast
Manu Ginobili (SA): 8 pts 7 reb 3 st
Devin Brown (SA): 11 pts

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GAME 6:  Lakers 88 - Spurs 76

Sweet revenge

Leaders: points rebounds assists
Lakers 26: Bryant 19: O'Neal 7: Bryant
Spurs 20: Duncan 11: Duncan 4: Ginobili
  1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot
LAL 23 16 17 32 88
SAS 21 18 13 24 76
click for Lakers Playoff pictures (LA Daily News), (Kobe Bryant, Robert Horry)
click for pictures
STAPLES CENTER - LOS ANGELES. Exactly one year after being eliminated by the Spurs, the Lakers got their revenge with an 88-76 victory to win their Western Conference semifinals.
They became just the eighth team to climb out of an 0-2 deficit, winning 4 games in a row against the current NBA champion.
The Lakers took advantage of the power provided by their 4 superstars. Kobe scored 26 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter. Shaq dominated on the defensive end, he took 19 rebounds and gave 5 blocks. Malone and Payton added points, assists and rebounds but most important they were successful defending the San Antonio stars Tim Duncan and Tony Parker. Duncan scored on just 7 of 18 shots and Parker hit only 4 of 18 shots.
Defense was the key to the Lakers victories in the series, so they followed the same script to finish the Spurs. The proof is that Antonio starters Turkoglu, Bowen and Nesterovic combined to make 2 of 17 shots and all the Spurs combined for 3 of 24 3-point attempts.
The game was tied 39-39 at halftime but two hoops by Bryant made it 50-44 and a 3-pointer by Kareem Rush extended it to 56-49 late in the third. Shaq took 7 rebounds in the period.
Devin Brown scored 6 straight points to give the Spurs a 58-57 lead early in the fourth. But Bryant scored two free throws and Derek Fisher a 3-pointer to recover the lead and the Lakers were ahead the rest of the way.
Fisher, the hero in game 5, received a huge ovation every time his face was shown on the video screen.
It was 74-68 with 3:39 remaining when coach Gregg Popovich started a ridiculous Hack-a-Shaq. The old strategy to foul Shaq on every possession even without the ball. It is proven it does not work and take the minds of your players out of the game. And of course it didn't work, Shaq made 5 of his 8 free throws and the Spurs lost the little pride remaining on them.
Kobe Bryant also took 7 rebounds, gave 7 assists and provided the highest point of the night with a spectacular dunk over Duncan with 1:52 to play.
Against the Spurs, maybe the best defensive team in the league, Shaq averaged 22.5 points on .635 shooting, 14.5 rebounds and 4.33 blocks per game.
Kobe averaged 26.3 points on .462 shooting, 6.33 rebounds and 5.83 assists.
Five of the seven previous teams to come back from a 2-0, went on to win the NBA championship, including Jackson's '93 Bulls.
The Lakers will have some time to rest until Friday, while they wait for the Minnesota Timberwolves or the Sacramento Kings.

The Quotes

Shaquille O'Neal (LA): "When we play hard and play with kind a lot of passion and when you believe like that, anything can happen"
Kobe Bryant (LA): "It was a big series for us, playing the defending champs... Last year they knocked us out and we had an opportunity to return the favor."
Karl Malone (LA): "There's been games in Utah when I scored 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds . and I wasn't as tired as I've been after scoring nine points and grabbing seven rebounds here... This reminded me of those Finals series against Chicago,(against the Bulls with the Utah Jazz in 1997 and '98). Every game was a championship game."

Highlights

Kobe Bryant: 26 pts 7 reb 7 ast
Shaquille O'Neal: 17 pts 19 reb 5 bl
Gary Payton: 15 pts 7 ast
Devean George: 10 pts 5 ast
Karl Malone: 8 pts 4 st
Tim Duncan (SA): 20 pts 11 reb
Manu Ginobili (SA): 16 pts 7 reb 4 st
Tony Parker (SA): 9 pts 3 ast
Robert Horry (SA): 12 pts 7 reb
Devin Brown (SA): 15 pts 6 reb

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