Monday , Apr , 05 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Spurs grab key win on road against the Lakers

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – Tony Parker poured in 29 points and handed
out nine assists to lead San Antonio to a 95-89 win over the Los Angeles
Lakers in a battle between the last two NBA champions at Staples Center.

Tim Duncan contributed 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Spurs, who have won
six straight games and remained 1 1/2 games behind Minnesota for the Midwest
Division lead. The Timberwolves defeated Memphis Sunday.

“Every year it’s like this — it’s not new to us,” Duncan said. “It doesn’t
matter. We’re going to keep playing, and we’re going to hopefully be in
position to make a run at the end. That’s all we’re playing for. We’re not
playing for attention.”

Kobe Bryant scored 28 points and Gary Payton netted 21 points and grabbed
eight rebounds for the Lakers, who had their season-high 11-game winning
streak halted.

Shaquille O’Neal scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds while Karl Malone
had 12 points in the setback.

The loss dropped Los Angeles one-half game behind Sacramento for both the top
overall seed in the Western Conference as well as the Pacific Division.

“I never felt like we had the kind of energy in the game that I like to have,”
said Lakers head coach Phil Jackson.

San Antonio made 7-of-15 shots from behind the arc (47 percent), while the
Lakers connected on just 2-of-12 from three-point range (17 percent).

Los Angeles trailed by 11 at halftime, but clawed back in the third quarter as
Bryant’s layup with 9:56 left in the period trimmed the deficit to 54-50. The
Lakers eventually drew even and tied the score at 56 apiece on Payton’s
fallaway jumper moments later.

However, the Spurs steadied themselves and built their advantage to seven
points at 69-62 on Duncan’s jumper later in the period. San Antonio carried a
73-66 edge into the final period.

The Spurs began the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run and opened up a 79-66 lead.
The margin grew to 14 points near the midway point of the period, but Los
Angeles then used an 8-0 spurt, keyed by two mammoth dunks from O’Neal, to
close the gap to 84-78 with around five minutes remaining.

The Lakers made it 88-84 on a pair of free throws by Malone with 3:02 left,
but Duncan’s foul-line jumper restored San Antonio’s six-point edge. After a
Bryant miss, Parker’s three from the left corner staked the Spurs to a 93-84
advantage.

Los Angeles would not go away as five quick points brought it within 93-89
with 1:27 left in the game. O’Neal actually had a chance to make it a two-
point contest, but his short jump hook fell off the mark with around a minute
to go. Duncan grabbed the rebound and sealed the win with two foul shots.

“That was a really good win for us against a very tough team — a team that’s
played better than anybody in the league right now,” San Antonio head coach
Gregg Popovich said.

The teams went back-and-forth in the first quarter and the Lakers held a
22-21 edge after one.

In the second quarter, the Spurs battled back and grabbed a 31-27 advantage on
Duncan’s basket with just over eight minutes left in the period. San Antonio
led 44-42 later in the frame, but it ended the quarter on a 9-0 surge, keyed
by seven from Parker, to claim a 53-42 halftime lead.

Parker scored 18 points, while O’Neal netted 12 in the opening 24 minutes.

LAL