Archive for Sunday, May 12, 2002

Late spurts lift Los Angeles

May 12, 2002

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— The Los Angeles Lakers want to suggest something new for today's Game 4 with San Antonio.

Don't count the first 40 minutes or so. Call it warmup. Then put eight minutes on the clock and let them go at it.

That's been the pattern for the first three games of the second-round playoff series. Twice, the two-time defending NBA champions have prevailed down the stretch, and the other time they fell just short.

The latest sprint came Friday night, when Kobe Bryant scored four baskets in the final five minutes to transform a back-and-forth contest to a 99-89 Lakers victory and a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 will be played today in San Antonio.

"If you want to be champion, you have to respond to the challenge, and we did that," said Bryant, who finished with 31 points Friday.

The Lakers are going for a two-game sweep of the Spurs at the Alamodome and a chance to wrap up the series Tuesday at Staples Center.

"We know next time they are going to come out of the gates strong," Lakers forward Robert Horry said. "They don't want to go down 3-1, but we want to put them down 3-1."

The Lakers have clamped down on the Spurs late in games. While Bryant was closing the deal for Los Angeles in Game 3, San Antonio missed shots on four straight possessions and suddenly found itself down by double digits.

San Antonio's Tim Duncan, the league's MVP, is averaging 27 points in the series, but he's only 28-for-75 (37 percent).

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