Archive for Monday, May 10, 2004

Payton powers L.A.

May 10, 2004

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— Gary Payton swears he didn't have anything to prove.

Maybe so, but there's no doubt he had some extra incentive.

A day after expressing frustration and anger with his teammates, coaching staff and the media, Payton played his best game of the playoffs. And so did the Los Angeles Lakers, routing San Antonio, 105-81, Sunday to cut the Spurs' lead to 2-1 in their Western Conference semifinals.

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

Tony Parker shredded the Lakers for 50 points and 14 assists in leading the Spurs to a pair of 10-point victories to begin the series.

Payton shouldered much of the blame.

"I know I can play basketball -- I've played it for 14 years. I know what's going on," said the 35-year-old point guard, who had 15 points and seven assists and helped limit Parker to eight points and five assists.

Facing a must-win situation, Shaquille O'Neal dominated the inside, and the Lakers made life miserable for Parker and superstar teammate Tim Duncan, who scored 54 points in the first two games.

Duncan shot 4-of-14 for 10 points and committed six turnovers, and Parker was 4-of-12 and had three turnovers -- one more than his total in the first two games.

O'Neal had 28 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and eight blocked shots; Kobe Bryant added 22 points, six rebounds and six assists; and Karl Malone had 13 points, six rebounds and five assists for the Lakers, who shot 56.9 percent.

"We knew what we had to do today," O'Neal said. "We really didn't ever lose confidence, we just did not take care of the basketball, and we let two games slip away. Today, we played good defense and shot the ball well."

Nets 82, Pistons 64

East Rutherford, N.J. -- The Nets rediscovered their fast break and took a big early lead, and Richard Jefferson made sure things stayed that way.

Jefferson had a career-playoff-high 30 points as New Jersey finally put together 48 minutes of decent basketball, going back to its strengths and defeating Detroit in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal.

The Pistons still lead the series 2-1, with the Nets looking to tie it in Game 4 Tuesday night.

Ben Wallace grabbed 24 rebounds for Detroit, but he was the only member of the Pistons to display the same type of energy that fueled Detroit's lopsided victories in Games 1 and 2.

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