Originally created 05/02/04

Horry's hot hand and Lakers insight could help Spurs



SAN ANTONIO -- Robert Horry left Los Angeles with at least four valuable souvenirs from his six-plus years with the Lakers - three championship rings and a playbook.

The rings are history, but the San Antonio Spurs will likely tap into Horry's insight on the Lakers, not to mention the postseason shooting touch Horry became known for with Los Angeles.

The teams open the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series on Sunday, with Game 2 scheduled for Wednesday in San Antonio.

"I know their plays - I can help our team out when they call something," said Horry, who signed with the defending champion Spurs last summer after the Lakers declined to pick up his $5.3 million option.

Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson suggested that Horry's insider information regarding the Lakers might be outdated.

"Rob will know what we are doing out there, there's no doubt. He's a smart player," Jackson said. "Sometimes we say a little knowledge is dangerous. Maybe we can use his knowledge against him."

Former teammate Kobe Bryant looks at the matchup with Horry in purely competitive terms.

"It's going to be fun," Bryant said. "He knows our offense, he knows what we like to do. But we know what his strengths and weaknesses are."

Horry, nicknamed Big Shot Bob by Bryant because of his timely shooting in the playoffs, was an important cog in the Lakers' three straight championships from 2000-02.

In 2001, he went 8-for-13 on 3-pointers in the NBA Finals against Philadelphia, and in 2002, he hit a game-winning 3-pointer to clinch the Lakers' first-round series over Portland.

He made an even bigger splash in the 2002 Western Conference finals against Sacramento. He tied the series 2-2 by making a jumper behind the arc with 0.6 seconds left for a 100-99 win. Los Angeles won that series in Game 7, with Horry making a pair of late 3-pointers that helped rally the Lakers.

But in last year's playoffs he went 2-for-38 on 3-pointers, one of those misses being one of the most-remembered shots in Spurs history that didn't go in.

With the Western Conference semifinals tied 2-2, San Antonio had squandered a 25-point lead in Game 5, but was clinging to a 96-94 advantage in the waning seconds.

Horry was wide open when he got the ball behind the 3-point line on the left wing. He let go a shot that appeared on target, but the ball rattled around inside the rim and bounced out.

David Robinson grabbed the rebound with three seconds left to preserve the win for the Spurs, who wrapped up the series one game later.

Horry says his Spurs teammates still talk about that shot, but he doesn't.

"What am I going to say - 'Whoa, I almost sent y'all home,"' he says. "They got the most important thing."

Horry poked along during the regular season before lifting his game in San Antonio's four-game playoff sweep of Memphis. He averaged 11 points and 8.3 rebounds, both well above his regular-season marks, and made six of his 10 3-pointers.

Teammate Tim Duncan says Horry would be a go-to guy if the Spurs found themselves in the same spot as the Lakers in last year's Game 5.

"He has so much confidence in himself and is playing so well right now," Duncan said. "I'd love to see him in that situation. I'd love for him to take that shot."

Despite wanting to stay with the Lakers, Horry insists that this series will not be a grudge match.

"It's business as usual," said Horry, whose five championships (the other two with Houston) rank second to Scottie Pippen's six among active NBA players. "We've got to do what we have to do to move on to the next round."