Originally created 05/10/04

Lakers dominate Spurs in Game 3



LOS ANGELES -- Don't count the Lakers and their Fab Four out just yet.

Facing a must-win situation, Shaquille O'Neal dominated the inside and Los Angeles made life miserable for Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, routing the Spurs 105-81 Sunday to cut their lead to 2-1 in the Western Conference semifinals.

O'Neal had 28 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and eight blocked shots, and Kobe Bryant added 22 points, six rebounds and six assists for the Lakers.

But it was the defensive end where the Lakers won the game.

Duncan scored 54 points and Parker 50 in leading the Spurs to 10-point victories to begin the series. Duncan shot 4-of-14 for 10 points and committed six turnovers, and Parker was 4-of-12 for eight points with three turnovers in Game 3.

Only seven NBA teams have come back to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first two games. But no team has ever prevailed after losing the first three - a fact the Lakers knew only too well.

Game 4 will be played Tuesday night at Staples Center, with Game 5 Thursday night in San Antonio.

The loss snapped a 17-game San Antonio winning streak - the last 11 of the regular season and the first six of the playoffs. The Spurs had also won eight straight postseason games dating back to the NBA Finals against New Jersey last June.

Gary Payton had 15 points and seven assists, and Karl Malone added 13 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Lakers, who shot 56.9 percent.

With some help from his teammates, the much-criticized Payton did most of the defensive work on the speedy Parker.

Manu Ginobili scored 17 points and fellow reserve Devin Brown added 16 for the Spurs, who shot 34.1 percent and committed 21 turnovers - two less than their total in the first two games.

Duncan also had 13 rebounds to lead his team to a 45-41 advantage in that department.

The Lakers took command by outscoring the Spurs 18-5 for a 68-45 lead late in the third quarter.

It was 75-58 entering the final period. The Spurs scored five straight points to draw within 12, but the Lakers scored the next 10 to clinch the victory.

The Lakers led 42-32 at halftime, and it was surprising the margin wasn't greater considering Duncan was 1-for-8 for two points with four turnovers while Parker was 2-of-8 for four points with two turnovers.

Parker had one turnover in each of the first two games.

Six of the Spurs' 12 first-half baskets were 3-pointers. They shot 12-of-40 overall while the Lakers were 18-of-34.

Bryant made 3-pointers to start and finish a 12-0 run that gave the Lakers a 19-8 lead, and they were on top the rest of the way. The Lakers had assists on 11 of their 12 baskets in the first quarter.

Notes: A three-day pretrial hearing on Bryant's sexual assault case begins Monday in Eagle, Colo., meaning he'll have to rush back for Tuesday night's game. He's done the same things three times previously, including the final game of the Lakers' first-round series against Houston, when he had 31 points and 10 assists in a 97-78 victory. ... The Spurs hadn't lost since March 23, when they were beaten by the Timberwolves at Minnesota 86-81. ... Ginobili (9) and Brown (8) combined to score 17 of San Antonio's 32 first-half points. ... San Antonio's reserves outscored their Los Angeles counterparts 50-22. ... The Spurs' starters scored only 31 points, shooting 12-of-46. The Lakers' starters scored 83, shooting 30-of-47. O'Neal was 11-of-13 from the field and 6-of-11 from the foul line. ... The Spurs' 17-game winning streak equaled a franchise record. They won 17 in a row for the first time late in the 1995-96 season. ... The Lakers have won 40 straight playoff games when leading by 10 or more points at halftime.