Fisher one-ups Duncan in dramatic Lakers win

Posted: Friday, May 14, 2004

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Tim Duncan threw the ball up, fell down and heard the cheers. From his hands and knees, he looked to the San Antonio bench with wide eyes and asked, ''Did it go in?'' Told that it did, he ran to the sideline and was mobbed by teammates.

Only it wasn't over yet.

Derek Fisher made his own spectacular buzzer-beater, swishing an 18-foot jumper off an inbounds pass with 0.4 seconds left that gave the Los Angeles Lakers a 74-73 victory Thursday night for a 3-2 lead in their second-round series.

The Spurs filed a protest after the game, claiming the clock did not start quickly enough after Fisher caught it. Pending an improbable reversal, the Lakers head home for Game 6 Saturday night having won three straight.

The Spurs thought they'd avoided facing elimination in Game 6 on Duncan's shot, his second amazing basket from nearly the same spot in the final few minutes. All that remained was defending one more play.

After three timeouts, Gary Payton was ready to pass to Shaquille O'Neal or Kobe Bryant. The Spurs had them covered, leaving Fisher ''extremely open,'' he said. He caught the ball and sank the shot over Manu Ginobili.

A 26-7 run put San Antonio up by three with 2:14 left. The first go-ahead basket came when Duncan banked it in from the top of the key, double-clutching as O'Neal nearly swatted his first try.

Baskets by O'Neal and Bryant put the Lakers back up 72-71 with 11.9 seconds left, setting up Duncan's shot over O'Neal that made it 73-72.

''I couldn't believe it went in, honestly,'' Duncan said. ''They played the dribble-handoff great and I just had to take a shot, let it go as high as I could, knowing that Shaq was there.''

The Lakers' final play was designed to be a lob to O'Neal or a curl to Bryant. Two defenders followed Bryant as he ran toward Payton and Fisher, who had been setting a screen for Bryant, popped free from the foul line by taking two steps toward Payton.

''That's what happens in playoff basketball,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. ''The odds are very slim. They are always desperation shots.''

Bryant, coming off an amazing 42-point, no-turnover performance in Game 4, was fabulous for three quarters. He finished with 22 points, five assists and five turnovers.

Devean George was his top sidekick with 16 points, many off Bryant's passes, but he didn't score in the fourth quarter. O'Neal had 11 points and 11 rebounds and played great defense on Duncan.

Duncan made only seven field goals, but they came in bunches. There were three in the first quarter and the two eye-popping shots late in the fourth. He finished with 21 points, 21 rebounds and four blocks, but also made seven turnovers.

Tony Parker, who has cooled off since sparkling in the first two games, had nine of his 15 points during the fourth-quarter rally. Devin Brown added 11 points.

Notes: San Antonio's last home loss was March 1 against Memphis. ... The Lakers earned their first postseason win in six tries in San Antonio's new arena, which opened last season. ... San Antonio had two other three-game losing streaks this season to the Hawks, Timberwolves and Pacers in January and to the Lakers, Warriors and Clippers in November-December.



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