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Old 04-05-04, 08:32 AM
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LA Daily News-Spurs take spring out of Lakers step

Spurs take spring out of Lakers step
By Howard Beck , Staff Writer

Failure found the Lakers again Sunday afternoon, its three-week pursuit hastened by the familiar factors, among them undisciplined offense, poor pick-and-roll defense and the stoic, imposing presence of the San Antonio Spurs.

It's a spring thing.

Eleven months after they stopped the Lakers' string of championships, the Spurs reappeared at Staples Center to reminisce and remind everyone that the race back to the Finals is more than a one-team race.

The defending champions altered that discussion with a 95-89 victory that ended the Lakers' winning streak at 11 games and again reshuffled the Western Conference standings.

The Lakers (53-24) slipped a half- game behind both the Sacramento Kings and Minnesota Timberwolves and now hold just a one-game edge over the surging Spurs. The Lakers also lost whatever psychological edge they gained by beating the Spurs three times last fall.

"It was just one of those days for us,' Shaquille O'Neal said. "It happens like that sometimes. I'll take 11 out of 12 anytime.'

Five games remain in the regular season, and without a winning streak to mask their flaws, the Lakers finally must address the rough spots.

The Spurs picked them apart Sunday with simple, fundamental play, taking an 11-point lead in the first half, then putting away the game with a 19-6 run in the second half. The Lakers closed the gap to four points with 1:27 left, but couldn't make the critical plays down the stretch.

"I think we just get refocused again and come back,' coach Phil Jackson said, looking ahead to games against Portland, Memphis and Sacramento. "We're kind of excited about this week, we're kind of pointing towards it as an issue.'

Tony Parker (29 points) caused the Lakers defense to unravel with his speed and a repetition of pick- and-roll plays, and the entire frontcourt tried to take the blame. Karl Malone faulted himself for not giving enough help to Gary Payton and Derek Fisher. Upon hearing that, O'Neal said, no, he was to blame.

Rick Fox chuckled, pointed to his own five-turnover, 2-point performance, and declared, "They can't have that today. It's my fault.'

Mostly, the Lakers flogged themselves over defensive lapses, a sensible enough explanation and one readily consumed in a dour postgame locker room. But the Lakers had outscored the Spurs, 47-42, and held them to 39-percent shooting in the second half, and their public rationalizations left out the 32-20 drubbing they took in the second quarter.

In softer, more nuanced tones, players cited an offense that stopped functioning, and a lack of patience on the court, all of which made it hard to ignore Kobe Bryant's sometimes wild, 3-of-14 performance in the first half.

"It's simple. Pass the ball,' one player said.

San Antonio closed out the first half with a 15-5 run, during which Bryant missed four 3-pointers and coughed up the ball on a drive into traffic, the kind of sequences that leave teammates exasperated. Bryant settled down in the second half, making 6 of 12 shots to finish 9 of 26.

O'Neal scored 17 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Payton scored 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Malone finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

Jackson had worried that Bruce Bowen's physical, attacking brand of defense would bait Bryant into one-on-one forays, but was cautious in his appraisal afterward.

"The nod went toward Bowen winning that battle, as far as being able to play the kind of defense he wanted to play against Kobe,' Jackson said. "So we had to go to other things during the course of the rest of the game.'

For the game, the Lakers shot just 42.7 percent from the field, and although it was easy to credit the Spurs' famously tough defense, O'Neal said, "I think it was more of us.'

Of the Lakers' 17 assists, 11 came in the second half, when the offense took a more predictable form or as Jackson put it, "(we) played more of a style of ball that's reminiscent of what we wanted to do.'

Fox said the Lakers' scrambled offense caused some of the confusion that led to his many errant passes and concluded, "With a little more patience and execution, it may not have to be so hard on the offensive end. It should get easier baskets for everybody. But we know that.'

Last edited by spurs99; 04-05-04 at 08:40 AM. Reason: I cant copy link to article
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Old 04-05-04, 08:40 AM
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Some writers still won't get it. Still about the Lakers this Lakers that.
Do choke on your Chunky Monkey....

Seems like last year's championship was no "accident" after all.
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Old 04-05-04, 09:25 AM
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Ho-hum

Quote:
Originally Posted by JWest
Some writers still won't get it. Still about the Lakers this Lakers that.
Do choke on your Chunky Monkey....

Seems like last year's championship was no "accident" after all.
Yup, get used to the music us Spurs fans have been plugging our ears to for years. Just remember, if we beat a team-it's NEVER what's right with the Spurs, it's what's WRONG with the other team. If we LOSE, however-prepare yourself for unlimited press about why the other team was better. It's the same old song and dance that it has always been...but we know better-don't we!!!!
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Old 04-05-04, 11:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JWest
Some writers still won't get it. Still about the Lakers this Lakers that.
That's only natural and to be expected. The Lakers are seen by the media as being the team with the most talent, therefore any failures will be primarily viewed as a result of what the team with the most talent did not do and secondarily what the other team did.
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Old 04-05-04, 11:40 AM
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Its an LA Daily News article. Why shouldn't they focus on the Lakers? The good thing is that LA probably still doesn't know how good the Spurs can play, cos yesterday was a simple businesslike win where the Spurs didn't really play exceptionally well.
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Old 04-05-04, 12:34 PM
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Yeah let them dream on and blame themselves - but Doc Rivers said it - the Spurs have taken control and they are causing the Lakers to unravel - complaining, missing passes to the chest, getting techs.... etc.
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