Originally created 05/26/01

Lakers rout Spurs



LOS ANGELES - They are playing with playoff perfection en route to a championship trophy with no blemishes.

With a 111-72 rout of the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night, the Los Angeles Lakers erased any doubt that they could become the first NBA team to sweep its way through the playoffs.

Led by the superstar duo that has gone from a family feud to an incomparable on-court partnership, the defending champions have won 18 in a row, 10 this postseason.

Shaquille O'Neal had 35 points and 17 rebounds, while Kobe Bryant had 36 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, as the Lakers embarrassed a Spurs team that compiled the best record in the NBA regular season, only to be dominated by Los Angeles.

The Lakers lead the Western Conference finals 3-0 and can complete a sweep with a homecourt victory Sunday.

The only remaining drama is whether anyone can beat Los Angeles, even once.

Los Angeles' 10-0 run is the best in the playoffs since the 1989 Lakers went 11-0, only to lose Magic Johnson and Byron Scott to injuries and be swept by Detroit in the finals.

It might take that kind of calamity to slow these Lakers.

No team has come back from being down 3-0 to win a series, and the others who tried were playing mere mortals, not a Los Angeles team that is improving each time it takes the court.

David Robinson tried to keep San Antonio close with a 24-point performance, but Tim Duncan, after scoring a career playoff-high 40 in Game 2, was just 3-for-14 from the field and scored nine points. Antonio Daniels scored 17 points for the Spurs, who suffered their worst loss of the season.

Derek Fisher scored 13 points, and Rick Fox had 11 for Los Angeles.

The Lakers ended any doubt with a devastating 37-12 blitz over the final 8 1/2 minutes of the third quarter and first 6 1/2 minutes of the fourth.

Daniels' two free throws made it 61-54 with 8:39 left in the third. Before the Spurs knew what hit them, it was 98-66.

Bryant scored from all angles. O'Neal bulled his way to baskets inside. Bryant opened the final quarter with a two-handed reverse stuff on a drive to the basket.

It was showtime again, only better.

Despite shooting just 29 percent in the second quarter and without O'Neal for the final 3:08 of the half, the Lakers still led 54-44 at the break.

With its offense sputtering, Los Angeles relied on a tough defense that, combined with more poor outside shooting from the Spurs, held San Antonio to 37 percent shooting in the first half (16-for-43).

Derek Anderson, who had been out for 20 days after dislocating his right shoulder in Game 1 of the second-round series with Dallas, was back in the San Antonio starting lineup, replacing Danny Ferry. But Anderson wasn't even close on seven shots in 22 ineffective minutes.

O'Neal, who shot just 8-for-21 in Game 2 and was criticized by coach Phil Jackson for a lack of energy, made his first five shots and was 7-for-8 and scored 15 in the first quarter as the Lakers took a 34-21 lead.

O'Neal ignited a 9-0 run with a one-handed, slapshot dunk on a lob from Bryant. O'Neal scored six points, and Fisher made his second 3-pointer during the surge.

Los Angles scored the last six points of the quarter, including two 15-footers by Bryant, to lead 34-21 going into the second.

Los Angeles had one of its worst offensive quarters of the playoffs in the second, making just seven of 24 shots (29 percent). Still, the Spurs, whose shooting woes continued with 37 percent marksmanship in the first half, couldn't pull even.

O'Neal went to the bench with his third foul with 3:08 to play in the first half. Daniels made two free throws with 2:59 remaining to cut the lead to 49-44. But the Shaq-less Lakers scored the final five points of the half, three by Bryant on a stuff and one of two free throws, to lead 54-44.