Spurs thwart Lakers' comeback

Posted: Tuesday, May 06, 2003

SAN ANTONIO When the San Antonio Spurs let a double-digit lead dwindle to one point, Monday night's game against the Los Angeles Lakers began to look like a throwback to 2002.

But maybe a year does make a difference.

The Spurs took advantage of a sudden size advantage after Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal fouled out with 3:26 left to post an 87-82 victory in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night in San Antonio.

It was good to get this one, but we still have a mountain to climb,'' said Spurs center David Robinson, who had 14 points and 11 rebounds. They're the defending champs and they're not going to give up that easy.''

Tim Duncan, who received his MVP trophy before the game, had 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Spurs, while rookie Manu Ginobili had 15 points, including a key 3-pointers and a pair of steals in the fourth quarter.

Kobe Bryant scored 13 of his game-high 37 points in the fourth, including back-to-back 3-pointers to trim the Spurs' lead to 85-82 with 1:08 left.

Those were the last baskets of the game, as the scoring ended with a free throw by Tony Parker after a technical foul against Robert Horry and a free throw by Robinson with 9.9 seconds left.

The key to the ballgame was (San Antonio) getting to the free-throw line,'' said Bryant, whose team had only 12 fouls shots compared to the Spurs' 35. You can go to the refs and plead your case, but you just have to play through it.''

The win was San Antonio's fifth straight over the Lakers, which needed a total of nine games to eliminate the Spurs in each of the last two postseasons.

O'Neal picked up three fouls in little more than a minute, his sixth coming when he went over Robinson's back while trying to rebound his own miss. He finished with 24 points and 21 rebounds.

We wanted to come down here and get two,'' O'Neal said. Now we can just get one but we can still take the home-court advantage.''

San Antonio went up 64-54 on a jumper by Speedy Claxton with 10:41 left. Then the Lakers went on a 12-3 run to close the gap to 67-66 on an 8-foot jumper by O'Neal over Robinson.

Nets 97, Celtics 93

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. Kenyon Martin overcame foul problems to score 21 points, and Paul Pierce spoiled a 34-point effort by missing the only shot that really mattered for Boston in a 97-93 New Jersey victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal Monday night.

Pierce had a chance to tie the game at 96 with 7.4 seconds to play. But his wide-open 3-pointer from the top of the key bounced off the rim, and Martin was fouled getting the rebound.

The Nets' power forward iced the game with 5.9 seconds to play, making his fourth free throw in the final 45 seconds.

Game 2 is Wednesday night at the Meadowlands.

Jason Kidd added 15 points, nine assists and six rebounds and Kerry Kittles had 17 points for New Jersey, which had five players in double figures.

Eric Williams had 15 points for Boston, while Walter McCarty and Antoine Walker each added 14 points for the Celtics.

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